There are a number of people concerned about crime in our city who are not swayed by the illusion of safety that the mayor extols. Two weeks ago I shared information which compared Bessemer’s crime rates with other similar sized cities in our state. Bessemer didn’t look too good.
But what about response to crime? During this decade, has Bessemer’s “clearance rate” improved? A crime is considered cleared when enough evidence is found to charge a suspect and take him or her into custody. Clearance rate is the number of clearances divided by the number of reported crimes.
Bessemer’s clearance rates are down, in some categories, significantly. For rape, the clearance rate dropped from 38% to 15% between 2000 and 2008. For assault, the drop was from 35% to 12%. In all categories except larceny clearance rates dropped.
After getting over the realization that only 15% of rapes are solved, we compared clearance rates to the other cities of similar size.
Bessemer has the lowest clearance rate for assault, and the second or third lowest for all other crimes when compared to the other cities. And since the year 2000, our ranking compared to those cities has gone down in every category except rape, which remains unchanged.
The data from which these comparisons were made are available from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center at their web site (Alabama Criminal Justice Center).
The scary thing about this is that when confronted with the facts, some of our leaders either ignore or purposely disregard them. What they do not realize is that their indifference is putting the citizens of their city in continued danger.
We are publicizing these statistics not to embarrass city officials or the men and women who protect us; rather it is out of concern for our families and neighbors. We realize that the police officers do not make policy and we see them doing their duty diligently every day.
Our city has a reputation that in the past I have refuted, but now I am beginning to think the reputation may be deserved. To overcome this, we need a paradigm shift in the way our city is led, and in the way we approach public safety.
But after attending several Town Hall meetings and listening to our mayor, I guess we will have to wait until 2010. Voters, get ready.