OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) – The FBI released its annual report into violent crimes, and it suggested murders, rapes and other violent behavior were down nationally in 2009. According to the statistics, which are preliminary and not final, 781 reports of violent crime were found in Crittenden County. There were 335 violent crime reports in Craighead County and 292 reports in Mississippi County.
"We normally report battery 3 as a violent crime so we have some of that," said Ray Rigsby, Osceola Chief of Police.
According to the FBI, Osceola reported 150 incidents of violent crime in 2009. In Blytheville, police filed 178 reports of similar crimes, even while Blytheville nearly doubles Osceola's population.
"We have a lot of jobs here. There are just a lot of people who don't want to work. They prefer the life they're living and that's the life of the delta," said Rigsby.
"It's going to take a lot of education and some time and some changes in the family group itself," said Rigsby.
Rigsby said the size of the city's police force and jail capacity help deter some criminals. The jail, which is 15-years old, can house 56 inmates at any one time.
"Most cities our size don't have a jail at all. They have to depend on the county jails," said Rigsby. "We have the national average, 2.5 officers per thousand people."
Rigsby said his officers run into problems during investigations. He said many people won't participate because they're not interested in getting involved.
"They don't want to be involved. They don't want to go to court. They don't want to testify," said Rigsby.
One local church Region 8 News spoke with said it would like communities to take back their neighborhoods.
"When it comes to crime and the issues they both have to deal with, same situations just different locations," said Bishop Gregory L. Brown, Senior Pastor of the New Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church. "I believe there will be a greater sense of unity as well as greater sense of awareness because most of the time you have crimes that take place because of lack of awareness or lack of intervention or lack of education," said Brown.
Brown said the Ministerial Alliance of Osceola chose last week to implement a new program to assist individuals fighting drug problems.
"We're trying to institute a program for drug addictions and other addicts," said Brown. "This program goes into the prisons. One namely is going to be the Department of Community Corrections. We will go in and assist some of the inmates with their addictions in helping them to recover."
Brown said police departments across the country, especially in high crime areas, can't fight crime by themselves.
"When you can go forth and apply all avenues of attack, then we can bring a lot of these crimes down because there are more eyes on it other than just the police," said Brown. "Intervention and education is important because if you can cut something off, then what you have done is you have saved a life basically."
"There is not enough unity going around and one side says we have the police, the other side says who is helping the police," said Brown. "Right now, we have a lot of people who don't feel loved. We have a lot of people who feel that no one cares about them and they feel they have to do what's necessary in order to get ahead or get the next hit."