In its annual report, the JPD counted 345 drug arrests last year, up ten from 2011 and 160 percent higher than in 2010. The most activity came in March and April, when police made a total of 73 drug arrests.
Police Chief Tony Grootens says the numbers reflect the continued proactive approach officers are taking.
“I said this last year and I’ll say it again this year- I believe that there is a direct correlation between drugs, drug-dealing and other index crimes that you see,” Grootens says.
“The drug arrests are actually up, but look at the index crimes- they’re actually down. That tells me that what we’re doing is working. Drug dealers take in stolen property on trade for drugs, or people steal things to sell and get money so they can buy drugs, so it’s all connected in some fashion.”
Index crimes dropped from 454 to 432, but not all categories dropped.
Specific decreases included sexual assaults- down to five in 2012 from fifteen in 2011. Aggravated assault and battery cases went from 58 to 45, while motor vehicle thefts dropped five to just three cases.
There were seven robbery cases last year, up two from the previous year. The amount of arson cases was unchanged at three.
Grootens notes the biggest differences were burglaries- there were 52 reported cases last year, down 28 from 2011- and theft. There were 32 more thefts reported last year, jumping up to 317.
“You have a group of individuals- like, you might have two or three small groups of individuals- that are responsible for a multitude of burglaries. We catch them, they go through the process and go to prison. So, they’re in prison now,” he says. “You’ve got a group that is responsible for the thefts. When we catch them, hopefully next year, the thefts will fall off as well.”
Roughly 33 percent of the index crimes resulted in arrests. Fifty-seven percent of the over 1,500 reports of criminal activities were cleared by arrests.
2012 was a homicide-free year in Jacksonville, the third straight year that has been the case. While Grootens partially attributes that to luck, he adds that it has to do with putting pressure on the right people.
“If they come to town and they’re carrying a gun and they’re dealing the drugs, we’re going to catch them. It’s that simple. It may not be tonight. It may not be tomorrow night. But if they’re doing it, we will catch them. I think the pressure we put on them is obvious,” states Grootens.
“And the street crimes [unit] is responsible for the bulk of that. Not that the other patrolmen aren’t doing their job as well, but when you have two individual patrolmen that are designated to not handle calls for service- all they do is go out there and look for illegal activity- where the other officers, they do it when they can, but they’re also handling the crashes.
"They’re also handling the domestic dispute, the bar fights, they’re also handling the barking dog complaint.”
The police department responded to about 3 percent less calls for service last year, down to about 24,600. 348 accidents were reported, down from 2011 about 5 percent.
Traffic accidents responded to by the JPD also remained low at 348. That’s the lowest since 2009 and resulted in a six-year low of reports of property damage. There were 56 injuries as a result, which is up one from last year but still the second-lowest in six years.
The report of hit-and-run accidents was up to 63, which is the highest since 2008.