Crime in Roanoke is down.
The Roanoke Police Department released crime stats Monday for 2012.
Overall, the report shows property crimes are down. But residential burglaries are up. And the number of reported shoplifting cases is up by more than 27 percent.
Overall, violent crime fell more than 13 percent in Roanoke last year.
Roanoke Police Chief Chris Perkins says some of the things Roanoke Police have tried in the past few years are working.
“I don't see that many drugs anymore, no drug users, no drug dealers, no addicts. I don't see that anymore,” Hurt Park resident Asia Smith said.
Chances are good that Asia Smith would have never said that when she moved to Hurt Park six years ago.
The main reason crime is down here: the Drug Market Initiative.
“Real good officers was in our neighborhood just helping us with the drug traffic,” Smith said.
If you don't know the specifics of how DMI works, you don't really have to.
All you need to know is because of it people feel comfortable talking to police.
Lt. Stephen Keatts is a 20-year veteran of the Roanoke Police Department.
In order to regain control of the community, the residents have to take ownership,” Keatts said.
He says the single biggest reason crime is down is the increase in comfort and communication between him and people in these neighborhoods.
“Now we have built a partnership with the community and people are reporting things to us that we're seeing, we know the times of day and days of the week that things are happening,” Keatts said.
Chief Perkins says that communication is the keystone of good policing. Building that trust to where they can call is a huge part. Not just between officers and the community, but between departments, too.
“It's working with partners, working with mental health clinicians, working with schools, working with other law enforcement officers in how we address these and how we come together,” Perkins said.
Perkins says stopping all crime is an imperfect art.
“I'm not going to say we're going to eliminate it because we can't,” Perkins said.
But the city is making great strides to keep cleaning up the streets.
However, the news isn't all good: there was a 20 percent increase in aggravated assaults with guns.
Chief Perkins says being proactive in reducing these crimes is a challenge because you don't know who has illegal guns until they've been used.
But better education and continued efforts to curb drug crimes is a good start, and is something the city is already doing.