Police: Assaults, violent crime fell; break-ins spiked in Rock Hill last year

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comFebruary 7, 2014 

  • Stats to note:

    Police arrested 4,668 people and wrote more than 11,000 citations last year.

    • Drug arrests made up more than 10 percent of all charges. Other common charges included: bench warrants (12 percent), shoplifting (9.22 percent), driving under suspension (8.79 percent), simple assault (6.28 percent) and driving under the influence (5.85 percent). Charges yielding the lowest number of arrests included: vandalism (1.22 percent), forgery/counterfeiting (1.36 percent), false pretense (1.60 percent), trespassing (1.75 percent) and aggravated assault (1.77 percent).

    • The city’s homicide rate returned to its normal levels after a spike in 2012 when police investigated more homicides in that one year than they had within the previous decade. Police investigated four homicides in Rock Hill last year; only one has gone without an arrest. In 2012, police investigated eight homicides. Four of them have gone without resolution. Before 2012, the highest number of homicides reported was six people killed in 2006 and 2010.

    • Police recorded 48,242 calls for service in 2013, continuing a downward trend since at least 2009. In 2012, police received 48,780 calls. In 2013, call volume peaked from May to August – months that experience the warmest weather when children are out of school. The most citizen calls in a 24-hour period was reported on July 5, likely due to calls about noise from fireworks and it being the beginning of a weekend.

— Aggravated assaults in Rock Hill are at their lowest in more than a decade, but car break-ins and shoplifters continue to scourge the city, according to a 2013 crime analysis report released this week.

Data compiled by the Rock Hill Police Department’s statistician shows that homicides last year were at their “normal levels” after a spike in 2012; robberies went down by nearly 25 percent; and simple assaults, forgery, credit card fraud, weapons violations and resisting arrest incidents were lower than two years ago.

Police say several new crime prevention initiatives, partnerships with community leaders and the continued use of statistics to target trouble areas have helped curb Rock Hill’s violent crime rate – which dipped by a little more than 9 percent from 2012, and went down by 19 percent from the 2001 to 2012 average.

Among those highlights, police laud the formation of a violent crimes unit specifically targeting the city’s most violent offenders: drug dealers, gunrunners and gang members.

Last month, members of the violent crimes unit arrested 13 alleged gang members in a round-up police hoped would put a dent in the city’s burgeoning gang quarrels. Police say nine members of 715 FAM, a group claiming to be rap artists, and four “top brass” members of 901 KOB, a newly-formed gang, have been charged in several of the city’s seemingly random, drive-by shootings. The two alleged gangs were feuding, police say.

Some of those alleged gang members were removed from Sunset Park, historically one of Rock Hill’s most crime-plagued areas.

“Right now, it’s kind of quiet since we got more police support and they know about (what’s happening in the neighborhood),” said Mary Hope, president of the Sunset Park Neighborhood Association. “Mostly, (incidents) are late at night when nobody who’s going to say anything is around. People like me are at home.”

Police informed community members in Sunset Park about the impending round-up nearly two weeks before they started making arrests, said Hope, who has lived in the neighborhood for 62 years. When she read news coverage of the event, she said she and her neighbors were relieved.

“Everybody was so glad to see it,” she said. “That meant what they were telling us … they were up on everything. (Neighbors) were very pleased to see that.”

Sammie McCloud was not one of them. His nephew, Delveon McCleod, 20, is one of the accused 715 FAM members arrested in the round-up. He can’t speak for any of the others involved, but he said he knows McCleod, who aspired to be a football player and then a musician when athletics did not pan out, is not a gang member.

“I think they’re trying to claim these kids are a gang and to me it’s just a bunch of kids together – one of their friends died, they got together and they just wanted to be tight,” he said. “They started producing this music.”

After his arrest on burglary and criminal conspiracy charges, McCleod, now out on $30,000 bond, lost both his jobs and wears a label that will continue to follow him, his uncle said.

“False identification can happen all the time and it does,” he said. “His reputation has been ruined now. I know what type of person he is. It’s not in his character to go shooting.”

Hope said she’d like to see more Sunset Park residents attend the neighborhood’s monthly community meetings, where police keep neighbors informed on how they’re trying to prevent younger children from becoming involved in gang activity.

“We have a lot of kids in gangs who are still in school,” she said. “Some of them are preying on our younger kids.”

Police statistics show law enforcement calls for service have gone down in the neighborhood, which comprises the area between Friedheim Road, Scoggins Street and parts of Heckle Boulevard. Despite the dip in calls, the area is still ranked as one of the top 10 neighborhoods for violent incidents, along with Boyd Hill, South Central, Southland Park and Manchester Creek.

Aggravated assaults were reported more frequently in southern Rock Hill and accounted for eight of those incidents in Sunset Park, data shows. Citywide, aggravated assaults decreased from 235 in 2012 to 221 last year – a minus-6 percent change. Those types of incidents were the lowest since at least 2001, when 325 were reported. They were at their highest since 2007 when 617 were reported.

To keep repeat incidents at bay, police perform follow-up home visits where domestic assaults are reported “to get to the root of the problem,” said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department. “Our agency has increased our efforts in identifying and arresting violent offenders.”

Police recorded 10 crimes they classify as “violent” – which include homicides, robberies, rape and aggravated assaults – in Sunset Park, compared with higher-ranking communities, such as Boyd Hill, which had 18 incidents, and South Central, which saw 17. South Central, though, has also had a “substantial decrease” in calls to police, the data shows. Nathaniel Jaggers, president of the South Central Neighborhood Association, attributes that to “the maturity in our people.”

“We don’t have as many people walking around like we used to,” Jaggers said, adding that “the employment situation has gotten better.”

“Employment, people and police working together has kind of helped us out,” he said.

The northern end of the city continues to be plagued by shoplifters and car break-ins. Police called the Rock Hill Galleria a “hot spot” for calls during the day. The Galleria, where 30 vehicle break-ins were investigated last year, was the top shopping center for most property crimes last year, followed by the Walmart in Newport, Target off Dave Lyle Boulevard and the Manchester Village Shopping Center.

“Shoplifting incidents continue to trend high in the city, as more retail stores enter the Rock Hill market...,” officials wrote in the report. Police investigated 644 shoplifting incidents last year, up by 5 percent from 613 in 2012. Shoplifting incidents were at their lowest in 2001 with 260 incidents.

Police note that as the city continues to grow, so does the potential for more crime.

“We’re never going to be able to resolve crime, it’s always going to be around,” said Hope of the Sunset Park community. “But, we’re just not going to let you run over the neighborhood and do as you choose. We’re not going to take it.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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