Fort Smith Sees Drop In Crime, Police Department Promotes Seven Officers To Sergeant

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FORT SMITH — Crime rates have fallen across most service calls for the first nine months of 2017, according to Fort Smith Police Department (FSPD) data. While the number of murders from 2016 to 2017 remained unchanged (four each year), the number of sexual assaults, aggravated assaults, burglaries/breaking-and-entering, and theft cases have declined as much as 22% in some areas, reports Talk Business & Politics.

According to Cpl. Anthony Rice, the number of reported sexual assaults fell in 2017 to 87 from 104 through the first nine months of 2016, a drop of around 16%. Aggravated assaults fell to 363 from 384 in 2016, down approximately 5%, while burglaries/B&Es sunk to 615 from 684 in 2016, a decline of 10%.

The biggest drop for 2017 was theft, which remained the most commonly reported crime at 2,617, but that represents a 22% drop from 2016’s 3,370 cases. Cpl. Rice credited the department’s neighborhood meetings and education programs as difference makers, noting the department “started having neighborhood meetings not too long ago after the new chief came in. We went around and educated the public on locking doors, keeping the lights on outside their houses, keeping their valuables hidden and in a locked place. I think the public is getting smarter on that.”


At a ceremony Thursday night (Nov. 9) promoting seven officers to the rank of Sergeant, FSPD Chief of Police Nathaniel Clark told Talk Business & Politics he believes the drop is due to two factors: “First and foremost, when citizens say, ‘We’ve had enough,’ crime starts going down because they start calling us and they start helping us be the eyes and ears in that community.”

Secondly, “Officers are going that extra mile and taking ownership of their assigned beats and saying, ‘This is my turf, you’re not going to commit crimes on my turf.’ Now [reported crimes] are down today, they could be up tomorrow. But if you look at the first nine months of this year versus the first nine months of last year, our violent crime is down, and it’s down because we’re building those strong partnerships in the community, and it’s working.”

One indicator of progress, Clark said, is the significant increase in the amount of service calls. Despite the drops in crime, the department has fielded more than 5,000 additional calls this year at 63,743 compared to 58,220 through September 2016, a 9.5% change.

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