Indicators point to possible historic year
St. Charles Parish crime falling 16 percent in the first half of this year isn’t just a number, but it’s an accomplishment that Sheriff Greg Champagne says could add up to a record year.
“The first six months in 2018 indicate that we are on track to possibly reach a new record low for the year,” Champagne said. “We are very pleased with these results and they actually are so significant that we are experiencing a crime rate which is roughly half of what it was 10 years ago.”
While rapes are up by four over this same time last year, all other major indicators are down: Murders, from 3 to 2; robberies, from 26 to 13, and assaults, from 302 to 259; burglaries, from 102 to 79; thefts, from 302 to 266, and auto thefts, from 34 to 20.
Calling it “planting seeds over time,” Champagne said the numbers reflect an overall effort spanning his administration to lower crime topped by well-trained, dedicated and motivated men and women in uniform. He also pointed to “having the full cooperation of our District Attorney and his assistants” in prosecuting repeat offenders who commit a disproportionate amount of crime.
Technology is increasingly playing a role in prevention and apprehension, Champagne said.
“With the explosion of social media and online news outlets, people are almost instantly exposed to and become aware of crime and other incidents,” Champagne said.
In the case of the late Ryan Dubuc, Champagne said surveillance camera footage played a significant role in the conviction of Jerel Anthony Smith of Luling who shot him to death in January of last year.
“Camera systems are prevalent,” he added.
Video cam photos released of the Luling man who recently jumped off the Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge helped identify him.
Social media has brought in the public in assisting to locate fugitives or crime activity.
Deputies are encouraged to join neighborhood Facebook groups to help track community concerns. Champagne said he receives messages daily inquiring about what’s happening in the area, as well as tips on identifying crimes.
“People are hearing about everything,” he said. “It’s a great tool.”
The sheriff’s Facebook page, which he manages, has 5,000 friends and another 7,000 followers.
Additionally, Champagne said programs like DARE, the School Resource Officer Program, Summer Sheriffs Camp and other juvenile justice initiatives have promoted respect and cooperation with the law in the parish.
Targeting crime areas for added policing also has been successful in addressing particular crimes like burglaries, he said.
Champagne added, “We have things at a manageable level so when something happens we can quickly pounce on it.”