With the growth of Jonesboro, has the crime rate gone up?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A while the Jonesboro Police Department is already busy with it's first murder of the year. We recently obtained the annual crime report for 2011 to investigate the numbers.

"For our size town and this part of the country, we're probably about average. Maybe on the low side with violent crimes and maybe a little higher with the property crime," said Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates, who recently compiled crime numbers for 2011. "You look at crime in multiple ways. You look at it by the type of crime and you look at it by frequency," said Yates.

We took a look at the crime distribution map from 2011. While many might think the area around Johnson Avenue would be high, the crime volume was actually higher in the areas around Union Avenue and Stadium Blvd. But Yates says the maps may be some-what deceiving.

"If you lump all of the criminal activity together, it's fairly evenly distributed. If you divide it up by crimes against persons and property crimes, then you start seeing some trends that differentiates one area from another," said Yates.

When you look at violent crimes, from 2010 to 2011 there were certain areas that seemed to stand out. Forcible rape stood out the most, which was up from 27 in 2010 to 43 in 2011. Secondly, arson had a 36- percent increase from year to year. So, why such a big increase?

"You can have one or two individuals that go on a spree and commit multiple offenses," said Yates, which helped play a part in last year's numbers. You might remember police arrested Jason Michael Brown last June connected to a string of arson cases throughout the city, as well as the serial rape investigation. As far as criminal activity, Yates says the best way to get a grip on what's happening is to look at it over time.

"When you compare our crime with our population growth and projected population growth, we find very little change over all over the last few years," said Yates.

Also according to the annual report, aggravated assaults are actually down roughly 50-percent since 2005. As far as changes in handling crime going into 2012, Yates says they evaluate the patterns of crime activity on a weekly basis, which guides how the department changes operations.

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