Columbia continues trend of decreasing violent crimes

Community policing has helped lower crime rates, the police department said.

Violent crimes have been consistently decreasing since 2011 in Columbia — crimes in 2014 were down nearly 35 percent from 2011.

Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, as defined by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Reports of violent crimes went from 582 accounts in 2011, to 476 in 2012, to 416 in 2013, to 377 in 2014, according to the Highway Patrol’s records.

There’s been a 10 percent decrease in violent crimes from 2013 to 2014. That’s an average of about 14 fewer violent crimes per month, excluding July, which wasn’t included in the 2014 records.

Latisha Stroer, Columbia Police Department public information officer, said CPD has made many efforts to reduce violent crimes in Columbia. She said CPD was trying to keep the same officers in their respective beats to work with the community in their area to help solve crime problems.

“We did a lot of different efforts throughout the year of geographic policing in different areas of town,” she said.

CPD also had two-man units in Douglass Park and in the northeast section of town off of Brown School Road. Two-man units are two police officers in a car stationed somewhere in town to increase safety, Stroer said.

“The two-man units were there to build relationships in the community policing,” she said. “(They) handle all the calls for service in those areas and work with the community in reducing crime.”

CPD Public Information Officer Bryana Maupin said many factors are responsible for the decreases.

“I think that there’s a lot of things that play a role into the decrease of violent crime,” she said.

Violent crimes have been decreasing in not only Columbia but also Missouri statewide. Missouri’s violent crimes have been decreasing for the past three years. In 2014, there were 1,234 fewer violent crimes reported than in 2012 according to Missouri State Highway Patrol records.

Over the past year, however, the rate of violent crime per month seems to vary in Columbia. Reports of violent crimes went from 19 in January 2014, to 31 in June, to 54 in September and back down to 35 in December.

MU Police Department spokesman Brian Weimer said MUPD hasn’t noticed any changes in terms of the rate of violent crimes.

“To be honest, we haven’t seen any big ups or downs,” he said. “Some years are slightly up; some years are slightly down.”

The number of property crimes also decreased from 2013 to 2014, with 748 fewer reported. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, robbery and arson.

Stroer said this might be because of CPD’s efforts to reduce burglaries during MU’s breaks.

“We focused … on getting a lot of information out to the community as well as students about the breaks and how to prevent burglaries from occurring,” she said. “We also had officers that were in uniform and in plain clothes who were working overtime in marked and unmarked vehicles, going around neighborhoods and trying to prevent burglaries from occurring.”

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