Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

TOP STORY >> Crime is down in Lonoke

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Even as former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, his wife Kelly Campbell and a pair of bail bondsmen prepare for arraignment in Lonoke County Circuit Court Monday, statistics show that crime in the city during Campbell’s last full year was down 24 percent.

That’s according to 2004 and 2005 statistics compiled and released by the standardized National Incident-Based Reporting System.

Campbell, his wife and bondsmen Bobby Cox Jr. and Larry Norwood are charged variously with felony drug charges and the Campbells also face some theft charges.

“We can attribute a lot of that decline to officers getting out, having more physical contact with the public through bike patrols and participation in back-to-school festivals,” said Capt. Sean O’Nale, the interim chief.

While budgetary problems have resulted in fewer police on the street, O’Nale said he would keep the bike patrols going. He said he is crunching numbers with members of the Lonoke Police Commission, hoping to present a plan to the city council that would help beef up the number of patrolmen.

“I want to start looking down the road,” said O’Nale. “We’re on the verge of taking off. I expect to see a lot of growth in the city soon.”

O’Nale said that Arkansas law has made it harder for methamphetamine cooks to get the necessary ingredients, resulting in fewer meth lab busts, but that meth is being imported and remains an epidemic.

The city has advertised and is accepting applications for a new police chief through March 15. O’Nale said he was neither a candidate for the job nor involved in the selection process.

He said he’d like to remain as the captain, but said the new chief may bring in someone new should he or she see fit.
O’Nale said the city could be encouraged by the decrease in crime, but noted that within individual categories, percentages of increase or decrease can swing wildly from year to year because the number of crimes is so low.

If Lonoke had one robbery the one year and three the next, statistically, robbery would be up 300 percent.
In 2005, as the preceding year, the city recorded one murder. There were two kidnappings or abductions in 2005, none the preceding year, according to the data.

Robberies were up 700 percent and aggravated assaults up 141 percent, but simple assault was down 8 percent.
Burglaries were down from 67 to 58.

Credit card theft was up from four incidents to six, while impersonation dropped from 13 events to three.
Drug violations were down 53 percent and paraphernalia arrests were down 71 percent.
Incidences of driving intoxicated dropped from 41 to 26 incidents.

In all, 1,030 offenses were reported to Lonoke police in 2005, down from 1,365 the previous year.