Beaufort News

Some crimes rise, others fall in Bluffton

Bluffton's crime rates so far in 2013 are mixed, with some offenses, including rape, on the rise and others, like larceny, on the decline.

The town's police department also is issuing fewer traffic citations than in previous years.

A new crime report presented last week to Bluffton Town Council compares crime rates in the first three months of 2013 to the average rate for the same months in the past three years. The report shows:

  • Two rapes have occurred this year, compared to just one during the previous reporting periods combined. The rate of robbery and aggravated assault is also up.
  • Burglary, motor-vehicle theft and other types of larceny have dropped. The biggest decrease was in motor-vehicle thefts. There have been none so far this year, compared to an average of 3.667 during the first quarter of the previous three years.
  • Police Chief Joey Reynolds points out that the town of about 13,000 is lucky to have a low crime rate.

    "We really don't have much significant crime," he said, "but having any increase is not a good thing."

    Another decline noted in the report is traffic citations. Nearly 550 were handed out in March, compared to an average of about 960 for the three previous years. A similar drop exists between January and February of this year when compared to the previous years.

    Reynolds, who was hired in September, said his department had four unfilled positions for a time, which probably caused the decline in citations. The department also has been concentrating on policing intersections and other locations where wrecks frequently occur, and spending less time making traffic stops in other parts of town.

    In the coming weeks, Reynolds said, he will roll out a new strategic plan to try to reduce crime rates.

    The plan will focus more on community policing. For example, more will be done to work with residents to address substance-abuse problems. Those offenses can lead to assaults and domestic violence, he said.

    "Substance abuse is behind a lot of it, so if you can address that problem, you address a range of crimes," he said.

    Bluffton town manager Anthony Barrett will get the final say on Reynolds' plan.

    "I am very pleased with the police chief and his team's effort to develop a strategic plan for the police department," Barrett said. "It incorporates many of the elements Chief Reynolds and I discussed prior to his hiring: a community policing philosophy, police reserves and a Citizen Police Academy. These elements are easily transferred and integrated into the town's overall strategic plans."

    Follow reporter Gina Smith at twitter.com/GinaNSmith.

    Related content:

    Read the complete crime report

    To new Bluffton chief, community policing is key, Dec. 10, 2012

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