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City's overall crime rates down

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Most crime reports for the City of Marion decreased in 2018, with the exception of the number of homicides.

MPD records show that there were nine homicides in 2018, while the average number of homicides between 2001-2017 came to 2.3.

Chief Angela Haley said the department believes a number of homicides in 2018 were connected to an ongoing feud, while others were committed by people from outside the community.

Despite that higher number of homicides, Haley said the agency is taking proactive measures to combat criminal activity in the area.

She said officers have increased patrols to prevent thefts and robberies.

The department has also utilized events like the National Night Out, held Tuesday, to interact with members of the community and combat the stigma about police officers.

“It’s vitally important to interact with the community,” Haley said. “When we’re on call, that’s the worst moment of someone’s life. We want to get to know people when we’re not on call too.”

Haley advises people to speak up and contact the police when they notice strange things happening.

While the rates of some crimes have gone up slightly from 2017 to 2018, like the 8 percent increase for robbery, auto theft is down by 32 percent and burglary is down by 13 percent.

Reports show most categories had very high rates in the early 2000s. For example, there were 1421 thefts in 2002, compared to 819 in 2018.

There were also 692 batteries in 2002 compared to 321 in 2018.

Det. Sgt. Mark Stefanatos attributes those high crime rates to an increase in drugs at the time.

He said that, like the late 1980s when crack cocaine was introduced, an increase in meth and heroin have contributed to high crime rates.

Stefanatos also said that economic hardships at the time also could have played a part.

“We went through a hard time then,” Stefanatos said.

But Stefanatos attributes good communication to the lower crime rates now, not only between the public and the police but between departments as well.

He said that detectives and patrol officers are always in communication about what areas have higher crime rates and need more attention.

Stefanatos encourages Marion residents to continue communicating with police and “take back their neighborhoods.”