Under the leadership of Police Chief Keith Powell, the Smithfield Police Department saw a noticeable decrease in the overall crime rate in 2017. Compared to 2016, the overall the crime rate dropped in the Smithfield city limits by 14 percent in 2017.
Business and residential break-ins were down a combined 22 percent (138 to 107), larcenies dropped by 18 percent (603 to 495), auto thefts decreased by 48 percent (25 to 13) and assaults declined by 2 percent (52 to 51). Total property crimes numbers were down 20 percent (770 to 616) compared to a year earlier.
Drug crimes were down 29 percent (455 to 323) , according to the end-of-year report presented to the Smithfield Town Council.
Vandalism numbers fell 20 percent (90 to 72), and disorderly conduct complaints dropped by 31 percent (16 to 11).
Chief Powell credits his officers and the community for the decline. “Overall crime rates have dropped to an all time low all over the country except for violent crimes. I credit the drop in Smithfield to the effort, dedication and most of all teamwork of the officers that work for the agency. The citizens also play a huge role by being willing to get involved by calling the police when they see a crime occurring or just something suspicious.
Unfortunately, some types of crime were on the increase in 2017. The numbers of robberies increased 38% (16 to 22), sexual assaults increased 50% (4 to 6), weapons violations rose 24% (25 to 31), sex offenses jumped 133% (6 to 14), and forgery incidents rose by 36% (39 to 53). Total violent crime numbers rose 8% from 73 to 79 cases.
We asked Chief Powell what can be done to address areas where crime rose.
“Violent crimes seem to be on the rise across the nation. The Smithfield Police Department has increased patrols in the areas which the robberies have occurred and have brought off duty officers to assist with these patrols as well. The Investigations Division has worked diligently to make arrest in the robberies that have occurred in Smithfield. In fact our investigators have recently cleared four robberies that occurred over the past few months. The sex crimes are the most difficult cases to often solve or prevent due to the nature of the crime and predicting future trends.”
Break-ins were a big problem in 2016 with 138 homes and businesses broken into. In 2017 that number fell to 107. We asked Chief Powell specifically what brought those numbers down last year.
“Those numbers are down, once again to the teamwork and dedication of the officers we have working at the Smithfield Police Department. It is also due to concern citizens and neighbors looking out for each other. The citizens are willing to get involved and call the police when they see suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. This allows the police officers to locate the individuals committing crimes. Smithfield residents have also been utilizing the “House Check” program, notifying us when they are out of town on vacation.”
Chief Powell said citizens can help keep the crime rate down in 2018. “Residents can help the police by being vigilant in their neighborhoods and being alert to suspicious people/ activity in their neighborhoods. They can continue to contact the police when they see things out of the ordinary anytime of the day or night. If you see something that you suspect is suspicious it probably is, please call 911 and let us check into things. Citizens are also urged to refrain from providing personal information to telemarketers to avoid being victims of identity theft. With spring approaching we also encourage our residents to not pay home repair companies and lawn care companies until the job is complete.
In 2017, impaired driving arrests increased 3 percent from 102 to 105 arrests. There was one homicide reported in 2016. There were no murders reported in 2017 in Smithfield.