10/12/11 — Crime rate down significantly in Mount Olive

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Crime rate down significantly in Mount Olive

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 12, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Murders in the town fell from five to none, simple assaults from 49 to 30 and larcenies from 175 to 142 over the past year as Mount Olive's overall crime rate recorded a 19 percent drop.

There were a few increases: More serious assaults rose from 20 to 27, while non-residential burglaries increased from seven to eight, and commercial burglaries from 9 to 10 and driving while impaired charges increased from four to five.

Violent and property crimes were down by 13 percent while all other crimes were down by 26 percent.

The numbers are for the period of September 2010 to September 2011.

What makes the drop remarkable, town officials said, is that it comes at a time when the police department does not have a full complement of officers and has been forced to weather drastic budget cuts.

Meanwhile, Chief of Police Brian Rhodes last week attended a grant-writing workshop in Raleigh in hopes of clearing the way for the town to secure $35,000 for mobile data terminals that will enable officers to spend less time in the office doing paperwork and more time patrolling.

The decline in crime reflected by the figures is "pretty much across the board," Town Manager Charles Brown said.

"If we compare just the month of September to September of last year, the decrease is actually greater than that, but that is kind of a small snapshot," Brown said. "I wanted to recognize our officers and their leadership because they have, under some very difficult budget constraints and working short-handed, managed to bring down the reported crime rate in Mount Olive by a total of 19 percent."

The decrease "says a lot" about the police department, said Mayor Ray McDonald Sr.

Other decreases included:

*Residential burglaries from 69 to 66

*Robberies from 7 to 5

*Auto theft from 8 to 7

*Forgery/counterfeit from 17 to 4

*Fraud from 24 to 15

*Prostitution from 3 to zero

*All other sex offenses from 2 to zero

*Disorderly conduct from 6 to 1

*Obscenity from 1 to zero

*Drugs from 35 to 31.

Attendance at the workshop was required by Governor's Crime Commission before the town can apply for the grant.

Pre-application for the grant begins Nov. 1 and continues through December. The town would be notified after the first of the year if its pre-application is approved. If it is, the town would then be invited to submit a full application.

The $35,000 would be used to purchase 10 mobile data terminals, basically computers, for the department's patrol cars.

The grant would require a 25-percent local match, meaning the state would provide about $26,000 and the town the remaining $9,000.

"That is not bad for $35,000 worth of equipment," Rhodes said.

The terminals will allow officers direct access to the state Division of Motor Vehicles during traffic stops. Currently officers rely on a radio channel shared with other agencies in the county.

"It (channel) gets busy at times," Rhodes said. "They (terminals) will allow officers to do their reports and that will keep the officers on the streets."

It also provides a measure of safety for the officers when making a traffic stop, Rhodes said. The officers will be able to key in the license tag number so will know if the vehicle is stolen.

"It will give us shorter traffic stops," Rhodes said. "The officers will not have to write the citations. They will be computer generated. It streamlines our paperwork and makes it more efficient."

Officers will be able to key in a vehicle's license number and the computer will automatically fill in information such as the vehicle's make and model.