Tyrone sees 35% drop in serious crime

Serious crimes in Tyrone during 2013 saw a 35 percent decrease over 2012, said Police Chief Brandon Perkins at the annual Town Council retreat March 6.

A portion of the presentation dealt with the crime breakdown for 2013. The report was broken down by Part I and Part II crimes. Part 1 crimes includes the most serious offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, aggravated assault and vehicle theft. Part II crimes include offenses such as stolen property, vandalism, DUI, fraud, forgery and drug charges.

Tyrone in 2013 saw 95 Part I crimes compared to 146 in 2012, a 34.93 percent decrease. Of those, 79 involved theft and nine were burglaries along with four vehicle thefts and three aggravated assaults.

The town in 2013 had 211 Part II crimes compared to 174 in 2012, a 21.26 percent increase. The largest increase came in vandalism which accounted for nearly 30 percent of all Part II crimes. DUI charges increased from 18 in 2012 to 27 in 2013 while drug charges increased from 15 in 2012 to 27 in 2013.

Perkins said the department in 2013 introduced a new internal statistics recording system and performance metrics for patrol officers. The aim, said Perkins, was to decrease crime by creating more officer visibility and to ensure that officers were more objectively evaluated on their performance.

Perkins noted that aggressive traffic enforcement reduces crime due to the increased visibility that traffic stops generate. The theory is that criminals who regularly see officers stopping vehicles in a given area will avoid that area when looking for a location to victimize, Perkins said.

The result of the effort appears to be paying off, Perkins said.

“The result of this new program was a 77 percent increase in traffic stops and an 11 percent increase in residential and commercial zone patrols compared to 2012,” said Perkins. “This increase in visibility led to a 34.93 percent decrease in Part 1 crime on top of a 25 percent reduction in 2012. While we saw a major increase in traffic stops last year, traffic violators in Tyrone received warnings from our officers 68 percent of the time.”

Perkins said the town experienced a 23 percent increase in accidents on roadways in 2013 resulting in 28 reported injuries and no fatalities. Most of the accidents resulted from drivers following too close, objects or animals in the roadway and failure to yield.

The top accident locations around the town were Ga. Highway 74 with 108 accidents, Senoia Road with 18 accidents, eight accidents on Dogwood Trail, six on Tyrone Road and five on Palmetto Road.

Perkins during the presentation commented on the ongoing perception that Tyrone is a “speed trap.”

By state law, an agency has to generate the equivalent of 40 percent of its operating budget from speeding tickets where the speed is less than 17 miles per hour over the limit to be legally defined as a speed trap,” Perkins said.

In Tyrone, and based on data from July 2012 through June 2013, 7.11 percent of the department’s operating budget was generated from speeding fines for violations where the motorist was traveling 17 miles per hour or less over the speed limit.