December 23, 2014 at 3:17 AM CST - Updated July 25 at 1:05 PM
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX)
Hancock County Sheriff's officials say measures put in place three years ago to reduce crime are paying off. If the numbers hold until the new year, the department will end 2014 with fewer violent crimes than it saw last year.
However, the numbers are up slightly in others crime related categories. Sheriff's officials say there could be good reason for those increases.
So far, it has been a year without a single homicide, bank robbery or reported rape or kidnapping. That's a stark contrast from 2013 when there were three murders, two bank robberies and six rapes and kidnappings.
“Your reaction to that becomes a proactive approach," said Glenn Grannan, Chief Investigator with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Officials say they saw a rise in reported cases of property crimes, like burglary and theft, as well as sexual abuse cases involving children.
In 2013, there was around one case reported a month. This year, they averaged two to three reported cases a month. Officials believe those higher numbers are due to the public feeling more comfortable with reporting those types of crimes.
"We don't believe we had three times as many children sexually abused in 2014 than we had in 2013. We believe the confidence level for such a sensitive crime and sensitive process to report. We have gained the confidence of the public, and we think more people are coming forward," said Grannan.
Burglaries and thefts saw a 20 to 25 percent increase over the previous year.
"Again, I don't think it's that the criminal element is more active. I think it had to do with small things reported. We've been successful in recovering smaller items," Grannan said.
He says at least a third of the theft and burglaries are committed by a relative or someone who knows the victim. He says the biggest spike in the numbers came in domestic violence cases.
"Domestic violence statistically we saw about a 55 percent increase," explained Grannan.
He said the economic climate, social issues and the unemployment picture is to blame for increases there.
"Causes a lot of stress, some of that stress boils over into domestic violence," said Grannan.
He says within the past three years, overall burglaries and thefts in the county are down by about 65 percent. He says when given the smallest of clues, they are able to solve eight out of 10 of those cases.