Crime stats show homicide rate rising
Six months into 2013, there have already been five homicides carried out within the city of Yuma. In comparison, only six homicides occurred during the entirety of 2012 and just four in 2011 – according to FBI records obtained by the Yuma Sun.
During the past nine years, 2005 saw the highest amount of homicides with 10 carried out inside Yuma City limits.
There have also been many other violent and non-violent crimes committed this year, although official crime statistics for 2013 are currently unavailable because the Yuma Police Department is in the process of bringing a new digital records system online.
The upward trend in homicides reported follows an overall rise in crime that has been on the uptick since 2011.
The prevalence of both violent crimes and property crimes increased slightly within the city of Yuma during 2012 as compared to 2011, according to statistics obtained from YPD and the FBI.
The statistics are gathered by YPD each year and then given to the FBI, which lists them in the national Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) database.
YPD uses the statistics to help determine where they need to focus their energy.
“We can take a look at (the UCR database) and we can develop different game plans to get out there and stop crime,” said Sgt. Leanne Worthen, YPD spokeswoman.
“When we see things that spike our attention, like a rise in a particular area or a rise in a particular crime – we have a way to adjust our resources.”
That may include the use of the special gang unit or the Crime Suppression Unit (CSU) to police areas facing high crime rates.
CSU is a recently reactivated unit redeployed as part of an effort to better connect with community residents and to provide an additional crime deterrent. CSU officers can patrol areas with traditional police interceptor vehicles, or with bicycles.
There may be many reasons a certain crime is more prevalent in certain areas of the community or during certain time periods, Worthen noted.
“Crime is not stationary. You can't say exactly why. Crime does come in waves. It changes. Sometimes it is just an increased population or the time of year.”
In 2012 there were 509 violent crimes reported, including six murders or negligent manslaughters, 27 incidents of forcible rape, 62 robberies, and 414 aggravated assaults.
In 2011, there were 490 violent crimes reported, including four murders or negligent manslaughters, 33 incidents of forcible rape, 66 robberies, and 387 aggravated assaults.
In 2012 there were 3,370 property crimes including 956 burglaries, 2,173 larceny-thefts, 241 motor vehicle thefts, and 31 arsons.
In 2011 there were 3,227 property crimes including 822 burglaries, 2,196 larceny-thefts, 209 motor vehicle thefts, and 23 arsons.
However, the number of violent crimes committed in 2012 remains well below those carried out in 2007, while the number of property crimes remains well below those carried out in 2006. Those two years saw the highest crime rates in each respective category during the time period between 2005 and 2012.
In 2007 there were 601 violent crimes reported, including 6 murders or negligent manslaughters, 32 incidents of forcible rape, 75 robberies, and 488 aggravated assaults.
In 2006 there were 4,066 property crimes including 809 burglaries, 2,512 larceny-thefts, 745 motor vehicle thefts, and 45 arsons.
Although 2012 was not a record year for crimes, some citizens have voiced their concerns about the increase in crimes committed.
“If our community has concerns about a rise in crime then we have concerns,” Worthen said.
“There are people out there with bad intentions. There are people out there that want to take stuff. They want to take your stuff. We understand that. If it is important to you, it is important to us.”
YPD encourages members of the public to get involved to help prevent and reduce instances of criminal activity in the Yuma area.
“They are our eyes and our ears sometimes,” Worthen said. “We depend on the community to hear and see things we don't get a chance to hear and see. You have to be involved in your community, and the community has to be involved with us. I live here too. We want to be safe in our community. We want everybody else to feel the same way.”
There are YPD programs available to teach residents how to make their personal property less attractive to criminals by taking common sense measures such as locking vehicles and homes, and reporting suspicious activity, Worthen said.
“Prevention is the way you get numbers down. Does it mean you are going to be completely immune from a crime? Probably not. But it certainly makes it harder. It's called target hardening.”
Most criminals “are not looking for a lot of trouble,” Worthen continued. “They want to get in, get out, and get rid of stuff. Make it hard for them. Make them move on and go somewhere else. We want to make it hard for them to commit crimes” in Yuma.
There are several crime abatement programs available to Yuma residents including neighborhood watch, crime free multi-housing and residential security surveys.
For more information about YPD programs available to the public, call 373-4700 or go online to http://www.ci.yuma.az.us/17822.htm or call 373-4700.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.