Traffic crashes in Hannibal continued a downward trend in 2012, according to data released Monday by police.
Last year, 525 accidents were reported in America’s Hometown. That represents a reduction of 59 from 2011.
“Every year since 2007 there’s been a decrease (in traffic crashes) and that trend continues on,” said Police Chief Lyndell Davis, noting that in 2007 755 traffic crashes occurred. “Any time that you can drop 42 percent of your accidents (from 2007), something is going your way.”
HPD’s increased traffic enforcement is helping maintain the trend, according to Davis. Where enforcement efforts are focused is based on traffic studies, accident figures and citizen complaints.
Another factor is the city’s red-light camera systems that are currently in service at three intersections along U.S. 61.
“From our vantage point there is no doubt that increased traffic enforcement and red-light cameras have made a significant reduction in the number of vehicle crashes that we have investigated,” said Davis.
Perhaps helping lower the number of traffic crashes is a reduction in drunk drivers being seen on city streets. In the past two years the number of DWI arrests have dropped from 201 in 2010 to 154 in 2012.
According to Davis, because of the department’s past DWI enforcement “people that otherwise might have decided to drive on home” are now calling a cab or getting home through other means.
Declines were also seen in 2012 when compared to 2011 in property crimes - burglaries (157 to 146), tampering (53 to 47) and property damage (404 to 336). The reductions are even more impressive when compared to peak reporting years - 197 burglaries (2010), 77 tampering (2007) and 576 property damage (2008).
“We take a very proactive view of that (property damage crimes). We don’t just ignore it and say there’s nothing we can do. The proactiveness of the officers is leading to a greater reduction,” said Davis.
The incidents of peace disturbance dropped from 908 to 858 in 2012. The peak number of such calls was 1,496 in 2007.
“We think a lot of that has to do with our emphasis on trying to have a strong presence in and around the drinking establishments that are known for these types of activities as well as the extra enforcement,” said Davis.
While there were no homicides in Hannibal in 2012 and the number of forcible rape reports decreased from 8 to 5 last year, there was a slight uptick in some other violent crime categories in 2012 - robbery, 9 from 8; assault first degree (most serious), 11 from 8; assault second degree, 28 from 25; and assault third degree, 213 from 201.
“Obviously we’re dealing with human beings. Some of these violent crimes are a matter of choice or impulse, so there is sometimes only so much law enforcement can do,” said Davis. “We can try to focus on the environment or conditions which help breed this type of violent crime, which we believe to be drug dealing and excessive drug use as well as habitual alcohol consumption and things of that nature which lead to aggravated assaults and robberies. Many of the robberies we have investigated through the years have a direct link to excessive drug use where they’re trying to support a habit.”
Page 2 of 2 - Davis points to his department having its own drug investigation unit with playing a key role in crime reduction.
“It’s had major results for our community. It’s reflected not just in your drug cases, but in your burglaries, your robberies and assaults because all that activity is so interconnected,” he said. “I’m not saying we have eliminated drugs in the community, but I think we have done a good job of keeping it unstable and dispersing it. It’s not as easy to do. It’s an ongoing thing.”