CONYERS — The crime rate in the city of Conyers jumped in 2013, but Police Chief Gene Wilson said the Conyers Police Department is not only clear-eyed about the reasons, but also the possible solutions.
The number of Part I crimes, as defined by the federal Uniform Crime Reporting Program, increased by 7.9 percent in 2013 from the previous year.
A total of 1,158 crimes – including murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, theft and motor vehicle theft – were reported in 2013, compared to 1,073 in 2012.
“I felt real good about 2012 and 2013 was fair,” Wilson said.
At the same time, the police chief said that calls for service for the past several years have increased as well. In 2007, the CPD responded to 79,553 calls for service. In 2008 and 2010, those calls increased to as much as 101,563 and 102,246 calls, respectively. In 2013, police responded to 102,635 calls compared to 98,608 calls in 2012.
“The reliance on the police for whatever reason has gone up,” he said.
The three crimes that saw the greatest increase were robberies, aggravated assaults and thefts.
Wilson said that he believes the increase in robberies and aggravated assaults is due to an increase in domestic-related incidents.
“The increase in aggravated assaults reflects the increase in domestic calls,” he said.
Likewise with robberies, the chief said.
“Many of those are also due to domestic disputes where one party tries to steal the cell phone from another person in the home, for example,” Wilson said.
According to data provided by the Police Department, the CPD responded to 689 domestic calls in 2013, up from 661 domestic calls in 2012.
“I don’t want people to think that because aggravated assaults and robberies have increased that it’s not safe to go to the store,” Wilson said. “Most of these are domestic-related.”
Shoplifting and cell phone thefts are also a primary driver of the 10 percent reported increase in thefts over the past year, Wilson said.
Wilson identified a number of factors that may explain why certain crimes have increased in the city — including population growth and downturns in the economy, for example — but said that sometimes fluctuations can be attributed to ease of profit.
He pointed out that when the economy dropped in 2008, metal thefts skyrocketed as people broke into abandoned or foreclosed homes and stole copper wiring or air conditioning units.
“We were seeing cases where people literally cut down chain-link fence to sell,” Wilson said.
But after the state passed more stringent laws on the sale of metal, these cases have declined, but instances of cell phone thefts seem to be climbing.
“Cell phones are becoming barter,” he said.
Exchanging cell phones for money is becoming easier and more lucrative, especially with kiosks at local malls where people can deposit an old cell phone and receive cash in return.
Moving forward, Wilson said the CPD will continue to analyze crime reports, communicate with surrounding agencies, including the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, and assign officers to areas where crime appears to be increasing. He said he has requested from the City Council to add five more IronSky cameras around the city and to purchase more mobile tag readers to be installed on patrol vehicles.
Specifically, Wilson said he plans to aggressively pursue prostitution activity in hotels in the city.
“It is bringing in a lot of problems that we already know about and many more that we don’t,” he said.
Wilson said that any time more focus is given to a particular area, crime rates will necessarily increase because more reports and arrests will be made.
“If you continue to apply those resources to those areas, I promise you crime will eventually decrease there,” he said.