MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Montgomery Police Department released its 2017 crime statistics Friday, outlining changes from 2016. And overall, crime in Alabama's capital city was down for the year.
The numbers are classified as Part 1 crimes in the Uniform Crime Report, known as the most serious offenses, which are also reported to the FBI. The numbers are divided between violent crime and non-violent or property crimes.
A closer look at the data, however, shows violent crime was up 1.58 percent for 2017. Within that group, criminal homicides and aggravated assaults showed an increase. Aggravated assaults also track the number of shots fired into cars and occupied dwellings.
"All shooting incidents reported through 911 are subject to a discussion the next day," Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley explained. "The next day we also send out officers to do a park, walk, and talk in that area."
Finley is reluctant to say organized crime is to blame for the increase.
"They may be part of an enterprise of drugs or guns," the chief said. "But at the end the day it boils down to a disagreement of some sort that results in a homicide."
Navigating the challenging waters of juvenile crime is also plaguing the department.
"We make arrest after arrest after arrest and then they are back doing the same thing the next day," Mayor Todd Strange said, sharing his frustrations about the juvenile crimes.
Strange indicated progress has been made in that area by forging relationships with the juvenile courts and working with Montgomery District Attorney Daryl Bailey.
Montgomery showed significant decreases in robberies with 121 fewer cases in 2017, and non-violent crimes such as burglaries, which includes thefts, down by 233 cases. Finley credits this to a transition to twelve-hour shifts, which shored up additional officers for targeted operations.
"We had some concerns with groups and robberies and things of that nature," Finley explained, "so we really put our heads together and developed some initiatives to put cops on the dots and we started to see that change."
The biggest change is a 3.67 percent decrease in non-violent crimes.
"Our goal when we started 2017 was that we wanted less crime at the end of 2017 than we did in 2016," the mayor said. "I don't want the fact to be lost that overall crime is down."
Altogether, from 2015 to 2017 crime in Montgomery is up 6.53 percent.