Violent crimes down in 2 Region 8 towns, police say

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PARAGOULD/POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – The FBI released last week numbers showing the country's violent crime statistics. According to the report, violent crime increased in cities with populations over 100,000. Cities with a population over 100,000 residents reported a decrease in violent crime. Overall, criminal activity is down 4.4 percent.

Region 8 News looked at violent offenses in Paragould and Pocahontas to compare the statistics locally. In Pocahontas, smaller offenses like vandalism are down this year compared to 2008. In Paragould, simple assault reports were down.

"The number of domestic calls, we show an increase of 11 percent from all of 2008 versus through the end of November for 2009," said Detective Arvin Volner with the Pocahontas Police Department.

Volner told Region 8 News authorities in Randolph County have been cracking down on a drug problem. He said drugs are becoming a larger threat to the community.

"Every community has a drug problem, but this year we made some changes in the department to better increase and educate our officers. The drug arrests this year are up 28 percent," said Volner.

According to Pocahontas Police Chief Chad Mulligan's monthly report, there have been 30 assaults this year compared to 29 last year. In 2007, the city reported 20 assaults. There have been 16 more domestic disturbances in 2009, and five rapes were reported to police. None were reported in 2008.

"I think there's more reporting, which we encourage reporting, especially for a domestic type. If there are any domestic violence issues, we educate our young. We educate battered women anytime there is a problem to report," said Volner.

Volner said police have benefitted through unanimous tips.

"We are proud of the increase in the number of arrests on that because the trickle down from that is it may suppress or reduce the number of violators we have in the future," said Volner.

Volner, who worked at the Paragould Police Department for 15 years, said larger communities are more prone to have problems with violent crime.

"Our town hasn't actually grown, but we've increased on our drug problem, and then we see a reduction in the rest of our crimes in general, especially our property thefts," said Volner. "Paragould is a growing community as Jonesboro so law enforcement has to really focus on the problem even more aggressively for a growing town."

"If a town is staying consistently one size and you may have an increase in one crime and a dramatic decrease in another one, so you really have to look at those numbers in more than just one way," said Volner.

In Paragould, there were 19 rapes reported in 2009 compared to 14 in 2008 and 21 in 2007. The total number of robberies since 2007 has averaged 15 each year. Aggravated assaults in the city have decreased.

"We have a lot of failure to report. There are a lot of crimes that committed out here that don't get reported. Sometimes if they do, it's day or even weeks," said Detective Mike Addison with the Paragould Police Department.

Addison said Paragould Police have had to deal with a number of drug problems, however, he said he was surprised the violent crimes were similar to those in previous years.

"Last year it seems we had more. We had a reported 709 assaults and batteries in Paragould and we've went down to 680," said Addison. "We worked a lot of batteries, 2nd degree batteries, persons that get stabbed or beat with something other than that."

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