York County saw nearly an 18 percent drop in violent crime last year, a trend officials hope vigilant police work can continue.
Like the county, Rock Hill decreased in violent crimes - rape, robbery, aggravated assaults - but by a slim 5 percent margin between 2008 and 2009, according to the latest crime statistics released this week by the FBI.
"We're following a national trend as far as a decrease in major crime categories," said York County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Baker. "We believe the decrease is because of our proactive work in the community."
York County's drop in violent crime follows a similar decline - nearly 10 percent - from 2007 to 2008.
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Part of that proactive law enforcement action includes a move to PRO-Star about 18 months ago, Baker said. It divided the county into four districts - York, Clover/Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill - where the deputies routinely patrol and take more time working those areas.
Under the system, statistics and crime data are analyzed and officials meet weekly to look at trends, allocation of manpower and resources to respond to those trends, Baker said.
"Deputies are taking ownership of their areas," Baker said. "Working to solve crime and prevent it to start with. In order to keep this trend going with more possible decreases, we have to be vigilant. We have to have our deputies out there preventing crimes and making arrests."
Cities and towns across York County saw mixed results.
Violent and property crimes rose in Clover, violent crimes by 25 percent and property crimes by 8 percent.
In Tega Cay, violent crimes held steady with only two more reported last year than the year before, but police saw more than a 95 percent increase in property crimes.
The bulk of the increase comes with a spike doubling the amount of thefts between the two years.
"I would guess ... increase in population - it's the biggest contributor," said Tega Cay Police Chief Rick Evelsizer.
He said a lot of the thefts were in cases were garage doors were left open and car doors unlocked - the types of crimes that could be avoided if people safeguarded their belongings.
York also saw decrease in violent crimes with no murders in 2009 and 10 fewer robberies, but a nearly 20 percent increase in property crimes.
Fort Mill's data for 2008 is missing from the FBI report, but the town reports an increase in violent crimes and property crimes from 2007 to 2009.
While violent crimes dropped in Rock Hill, the city had only one fewer property crime, according to the latest statistics.
One of the biggest tools we use to fight crime now is our computer system, Rock Hill Police Lt. Redfearn said.
"Our statistics analyst tracks the crime numbers and analyzes trends - that's what really helps us know where we need to be and what we need to be on the lookout for," he said. "The numbers tell us where we should be, and they help us prevent crime."
Rock Hill Police allow the public to track crime trends by using an online mapping tool made available last fall on the city's website, www.ci.rock-hill.sc.us.
Crime iMap is a free application that allows users to search crime data from the police department from the past year by entering an address, neighborhood, type of crime and date ranges. The system has a year's worth of data to show residents and business owners crime trends.
Despite the reduction in violent crime, Baker said in order for those trends to continue the department needs to keep working hard to fight crime.
"It's the men and women out working these cases all day, in the middle of the night, every day," Baker said. "That's what makes the difference."
He said it's still too early to predict if the downward crime trend will continue.
"We're running pretty even with 2009 numbers," he said. "Certain crimes could possibly decrease now that kids are back in school. I expect the number to stay pretty consistent."