02/16/14 — City crime numbers are in

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City crime numbers are in

By John Joyce
Published in News on February 16, 2014 1:50 AM

Black males are three times more likely to be arrested for a drug crime in Goldsboro than white males, says a study done over the past five years.

The Goldsboro Police Department released its annual Uniform Crime Report recently.

From 2009 to 2013, black males were arrested at three times the rate of white males for drug crimes, the study showed.

The report tracks criminal activity from year to year.

Overall, crime is down in the city, the report indicates.

"The statistics speak for themselves," GPD Chief Jeff Stewart said.

Homicides are down 62 percent from 13 in 2012 to just 5 in 2013.

Other violent crimes including rape, robbery and aggravated assault either fell or stayed level from one year to the next.

Simple assaults, however, went up -- the increase is attributed to more fights, 132, in the densely residential area of town the police department identifies as Zone 4.

Zones 1 through 6 listed simple assaults in numbers ranging from 18 to 80.

Most of the areas with lower numbers of assaults are mainly commercial business areas, Maj. Al King said.

In those areas, such as Zone 2, shoplifting and larcenies registered higher volumes.

The city is broken down into six zones, and each zone separated into four quadrants, or wards, Stewart said.

Each ward is patrolled by an officer who spends down time catching up on paperwork, looking for property damage or infrastructure issues and getting out of the car to speak with and to get to know the citizens in that area, he said.

Drug crimes, not charted by zone in the report, rather are broken down by sex and race.

Of the 552 suspects charged with a drug crime in the city in 2013, 407 where black males and 66 were white males. The data going back to 2009 shows a consistent trend -- the ratio in drug-related arrests between black offenders and white offenders is an average of 3 to 1 over the five-year span.

"We react to a call," Stewart said. "If there are grounds for an arrest, then we make the arrest."

Race or gender are not taken into account, he emphasized, only the criminal activity and the evidence.

He said the department made a shift in priorities after the rise in violence in 2012 and undertook initiatives to significantly reduce violent crime.

"We made a change this year to really go after the drug trade," Stewart said.

The results are in the numbers, he said.

As for gender, those totals are a bit closer together. Both white and black females make up 7 percent of all drug arrests, respectively. That is 38 black females charged with a drug crime versus 36 white females charged.

The category of "Other" is broken down to 1 percent male and no females.

"Other" was not defined to include or to exclude any specific race other than black and white.

King said the clamp down has also been effective against gang activity.

"We've seen a reduction," he said.

One decrease in numbers will be short-lived, said Maj. Mike West, who is charge of the department's traffic division.

Traffic citations dropped from 9,829 in 2012 to 7,005 in 2013. The decline was not due to a reduction in speeders, Stewart assured.

"We're getting ready to roll something out in the next few weeks," he said. "A new traffic safety campaign is in the works."

Part of the reason the citations went down was the department's new fleet of vehicles obtained in 2013. It took time to equip them all with the proper brackets to house radars -- radars that can catch speeders both in front of and behind a police cruiser.

There are 21 radars now in operation on the city's police vehicles, and 30 to 45 officers who are fully qualified to use them.

Stewart and West both said the new campaign is designed to slow speeders down and make the streets more safe.

"If it were up to us, we'd write zero citations. Nothing would please us more," he said.

Details of the upcoming speed reduction campaign are forthcoming, he said.

He said the department wants to give drivers plenty of fair warning.