The city of Bessemer’s crime rate has continued its downward trend, dropping for a seventh consecutive year in 2018.
The city experienced a six percent drop in violent crimes from 2017 to 2018, including a 33 percent drop in homicides (eight in 2018 compared to 12 in 2017), according to Bessemer Police Department statistics.
The city experienced three percent drops in burglaries and felony assaults.
Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the results show crime-fighting initiatives in the city are working, but he added, there is still room for improvement.
“Unfortunately, there is still much to be done in the area of law enforcement not only in Bessemer but throughout America,” Gulley said. “Going forward we will direct more focus on property crimes such as burglaries, vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins. Many of these crimes are crimes of opportunity.”
There were modest increases in some property crimes. There were 120 reported robberies in 2018 compared to 112 in 2017 and five more cases of unlawful breaking and entering of vehicles in 2018 as compared to 2017.
The 12 homicides in 2017 marked the first time since 2011 (11) that there were double-digit homicides in the city. Between 2012 and 2016, the city averaged five homicides a year, down from double-digit averages the previous five years. A homicide is classified as the death of one person at the hands of another and can include police-related incidents and cases later ruled justifiable.
Gulley said the police department will continue to create programs aimed at prevention, especially among youth. The Bessemer Police Department sponsored a Teen Summit earlier this month as part of its efforts to steer youth away from crime.
Gulley urged the community to stay involved in efforts to address crime in the city.
“Our police department will continue with our city-wide programs aimed at engaging our youth concerning conflict resolution,” he said. “I am appealing to our faith based community, non-profit organizations, schools and parents to assist me in this battle against violence in our city. We have to find strategies to deter our citizens from crime.”