Police: Violent crime, property crime decreases in Albemarle

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Violent crime in Albemarle decreased by about 41 percent last year, according to the police department’s annual review, highlights of which were presented before City Council Monday night.

Murders fell 50 percent (three were reported in 2021 compared with six in 2020) and aggravated assault dropped 52 percent (56 occurred in 2021 compared with 116 in 2020) though rape and robbery saw slight increases.

Total property crime also decreased about 14 percent, with incidents of burglary (-32 percent), motor vehicle theft (-19 percent), arson (-14 percent) and larceny (-9 percent) all falling.

When comparing the first half of 2022 with the first half of last year, the numbers are also encouraging. There have been 50 violent crimes that have occurred within the city in 2022, according to police data, 14 less than occurred at this same time in 2021, which accounts for a 22 percent decrease. Robberies in particular have fallen; five have occurred this year, down from the 12 that had been reported at the same time last year.

“It’s very important as a police department that we understand what’s causing our crime, understand some of the factors and be proactive as opposed to be reactive with it,” Police Chief Jason Bollhorst told Council.

Even though the numbers are encouraging, there is still work to be done, Bollhorst said, citing the 2020 North Carolina Crime Index Rate, showing Albemarle’s total crime (6,570.2), violent crime (905.2) and property crime (5,665) rates were still higher than the state’s, though they all declined last year. The numbers are determined using a calculation of crimes per 100,000 people.

The department is working to reduce crime this year to get in line with the 2020 state crime rate of 2775.5. To do this, Bollhorst told Council, the department would have to reduce crime by 44 percent for the remainder of this year.

“That’s a goal we have set for ourselves as we finish up the next six months,” Bollhorst said.

To help accomplish this, he stressed the importance of enhancing the department’s engagement with the community, adding that residents are encouraged to contact the police if they are aware of any problems or witness any criminal act.

“Getting out into the community and then having our officers engage among the public with problem-solving policing, that’s going to be the root of our strategy,” Bollhorst said. “We can’t do this alone, we need the community with us, working as a team.”

To that effect, Bollhorst also revealed the results of a 31-question community survey that was recently posted on the department’s website and completed by about 140 residents.

When asked to what extent are you satisfied with the overall performance of the department, the responses were pretty mixed: 41 percent responded as either “a lot” or “to a great extent,” compared with 33 percent that answered as “a little” or “not at all.” An additional 26 percent of respondents were only “somewhat” satisfied.

It appears many people also don’t feel police are addressing the problems that most concern them, as only 24 percent of people responded positively to the question while about 45 percent believe the police could be doing a better job.

When asked to select the top issues they believe are the greatest problems in the community, drug abuse (selected by 29 percent of respondents) was voted the top issue, followed by homeless or transient-related problems (10 percent) and burglaries/thefts (automobiles) and traffic issues/residential speeding (both at nine percent).

Some of the positives from the survey include that people feel pretty safe within the city during the day and they believe officers generally treat people fairly, are respectful and show concern for community members.

The police department is also planning to send an internal questionnaire to city staff to better understand how they view the department.

To better engage and build trust with the public, Bollhorst mentioned several ideas, including having town hall-style meetings, interacting with different segments of the community and initiating the Coffee with a Cop program. The National Night Out event, where police meet and interact with residents, will be Oct. 15 at YMCA Park.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

email author More by Chris