Major crime rate drops for seventh straight year
The crime rate in the city of Bessemer continued to tumble in 2019 sparked by declines in almost all major categories.
The overall crime rate in Bessemer was down four percent last year compared to 2018, according to Bessemer Police statistics. The decline in the crime rate continues a string of declines in the crime rate dating back to 2012.
Police reported double-digit reductions in almost all major categories for the year ended December 31, 2019, including a 33 percent reduction in burglaries, a 17 percent drop in robberies, an 11 percent drop in vehicle thefts and a 21 percent drop in unauthorized breaking and entering of vehicles.
Homicides increased by 5 from 8 in 2018 to 13 in 2019. The homicides were the most in the city since 2009.
The department highlighted several areas of progress in 2019, including:
- Addition of a Domestic Violence Detective for domestic violence cases.
- The Special Operations Unit removed drugs and narcotics valued at $332,000 from the city streets and apprehended 61 illegal firearms.
- Ten new officers were added to the patrol division in 2019.
- Several new Neighborhood Watch groups were started in 2019.
Police Chief Mike Roper said the department plans to launch several new crime prevention initiatives in 2020. Among the initiatives police plan to implement are self-defense and conflict resolution classes and a Citizens Academy.
“By allowing citizens a firsthand look at the police department and how operations are handled, it is our hope that citizens that have a better understanding of the role of the role of police in the community,” Roper said. “Additionally, citizens bring a wealth of knowledge about their community and particularly the problems in their neighborhoods. This enables the police to learn and better understand the concerns of the citizens.
A self-defense class held in January by the department attracted 75 participants. Other classes will be conducted throughout the year, Roper said.
Additional programs will focus on deterring youth from crime and Active Shooter Training for local churches.