JPD reveals study mapping out crime hot spots

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro Police Department has mapped out crime hot spots using an extensive amount of data.

City officials got their first look at the statistics Tuesday evening at a public meeting, and the police chief says there is a common factor linking the most violent areas.

One of his crime analysts gave a presentation Tuesday to the city's public safety committee and shared the results of the study, which was more than a year in the making. The investigation revealed exactly where crimes most frequently occur, and Chief Michael Yates says the more violent offenses are concentrated in areas near public housing.

"Publicly-assisted households in the City of Jonesboro make up almost six percent of all our households," Yates explained, "yet in 2010, (2011) and year-to-date 2012, they account for a minimum of 33 percent of our violent crime. When you have that strong of a correlation, you know you've got a problem, and we're going to deal with it."

Yates says that correlation should prompt the city to seek solutions to cut down crime. Some of his suggestions include creating more accountability for landlords and people applying for public housing.

"I think this has the likelihood of being one of the biggest projects we have for reducing crime, and if we're successful with it, I think we can really reduce some of the risk factors we have," he said.

"In some of these areas, not only is it becoming a haven for criminal activity, we're also providing tax dollar assistance for the people to live there, so there's got to be some responsibility when you're engaged in that."

Mayor Harold Perrin said at the meeting that more discussion is needed, but he suggested an action plan or at least recommendations could come back to the City Council within 30 to 45 days.

"What we stated tonight was facts," Perrin commented. "Now, we've got to come back and look at the most reasonable solutions to create and reduce crime for the City of Jonesboro."

Sharon Poe, the executive director of the Jonesboro Housing Authority, also attended the meeting and took copious notes. She would only speak off-camera, but she said she would gladly sit down at a later time after adequately reviewing the study's findings.

She did, however, address one of the public safety committee members who questioned if the city should pass an ordinance requiring stricter background screenings for public housing applicants. Poe says her agency already does that, but she says she was unable to comment during the meeting.

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