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Longview crime on pace with 2011 numbers, mid-year statistics show

By Richard Yeakley
June 23, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Residents of condominiums on Toler Road had a rude awakening around 7 a.m. Thursday as a neighbor realized vandalshad struck their neighborhood. Tires were slashed. Vehicles and garage doors were defaced.

More than 40 vehicles in Pine Tree neighborhoods were vandalized Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Longview police report.

Cynthia Adams, a Redbud Lane resident, had her 16th wedding anniversary celebration put on hold Thursday morning to deal with two vandalized vehicles.

"This has always been a pretty safe area. Now you wake up and wonder if you will wake up to slit tires or graffiti on houses," Adams said.

Mid-year crime statistics released this past week by police support Adams' statement - criminals aren't focusing on just certain areas of the city. No single area has experienced significantly more crimes in 2012 than any other area - although one area in North Longview has significantly fewer reports. However, Longview crime rates this year are on track to match 2011, which were the lowest in recent years.

This past year, Longview police recorded 4,421 crimes after responding to 54,539 dispatch calls. That was the lowest number of dispatch calls in the past 10 years, according to the police department. Calls peaked in 2007 at 67,217.

In the first six months of 2012, Longview police reported 2,336 crimes - just a little more than half of the total from 2011.

Kasha Williams, the Longview councilwoman for District 3 in South Longview, praised the police department for its efforts in crime prevention and added that every area of the city experiences crime.

"Sometimes there are areas that receive more attention when crimes are committed there. It may seem the crime rate is higher in one part of the community than another, but the reality is crime is everywhere," Williams said.

One reason for the lower crime numbers is the focus on active prevention the Longview Police Department has implemented in the past five years.

The Longview Police Department divides the city into six beats, each with a police area representative (PAR). These beats roughly correspond with the six City Council districts, but they are not designed to follow the same boundaries.

In 2011, beat 20, which is in northern Longview, a highly commercial area, had the most reported crimes with 841.

That beat also has reported the most crimes this year with 515, but 82 percent of the area's crimes during the past 18 months are larceny or theft because of the types of businesses there. This is well above the city average - 65 percent of the crimes this year in Longview are larceny or theft.

The beat with the fewest crimes in 2011 was beat 40, which reported 664. Beat 40 also has reported the fewest calls in the first six months of 2012 with 333.

Although the number of crimes is lowest in the area east of Judson Road and north of Cotton Street, it has for the past 18 months been above average for aggravated assaults, robberies and rapes.

In residential areas, it is important that residents do their part to aid police, said officer Jeff Hall, who has served as beat 50's PAR officer since February.

"Our door is always open," Hall said. "We work together to try to reduce the number of calls in the area."

Beat 50 had the second-highest number of crimes in 2011, recording 827. It has the highest or second-highest number of every type of crime - other than thefts - so far this year, according to police statistics.

Fifty-eight percent of the crimes in this beat, which encompasses the residential areas south of Cotton Street and west of Mobberly Avenue, are larceny or theft.

Hall and Williams voiced the value in residents patrolling and assisting police by watching for potential criminal activity.

Crimes will happen, but if people are in communication with the police, more of them can be prevented, Hall said.



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