Crime in St. Charles Parish over the first six months of 2021 is down more than 22 percent from last year, according to F.B.I. statistics.
It indicates an upward tick in crime last year – theorized by St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne as being at least in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic – has not become a trend. The F.B.I.’s uniform crime reporting statistics showed crime declining by a total of 22.3 percent over the seven major categories – murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and auto theft – with 597 incidents in total this year, vs. 768 over the first six months of 2020.
The spike in crime rate in 2020 followed a 2019 that yielded the lowest mark of Champagne’s 26-year tenure as Sheriff, with 1,316 total crimes reported that year. In 2020, 1,648 crimes were reported, which represented a 25 percent increase. It followed four years of decreasing crime numbers, however, and actually represented the fourth lowest mark in Champagne’s tenure.
“We are extremely pleased to see crime numbers return to the same downward trend during the first half of 2021 as they were prior to the pandemic,” said Champagne. “We are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that this downward trend will continue throughout 2021.”
The breakdown of each category is as follows:
*There have been three murders thus far in 2021, none in 2020 (100 percent increase)
*Five rapes in 2020, two in 2021 (60 percent decrease)
*Six robberies in 2020, eight in 2021 (33.3 percent increase)
*318 assaults in 2020, 293 in 2021 (7.9 percent decrease)
*65 burglaries in 2020, 40 in 2021 (38.46 percent decrease)
*356 thefts in 2020, 222 thefts in 2021 (37.6 percent decrease)
*18 auto thefts in 2020, 29 auto thefts in 2021 (61.1 percent increase)
The Sheriff’s Office noted that in 2020 there were four total homicides in 2020, all occurring in the second half of the year.
“Last year, in 2020 we reported an overall annual increase in crime of 25.2% as compared to 2019, during the COVID Pandemic. We saw significant increases in thefts and domestic violence (assaults) during that period,” Champagne said. “Despite very few isolated incidents, our violent crime rate continues to be extremely low.”
The crime rate is documented through the UCR system, or Uniformed Crime Reporting system, and serves as the nationally mandated crime reporting format as per the FBI.
Champagne credited his officers and staff, a strong partnership with parish District Attorney Joel Chiasson as major factors in the rate decline.
One more notable credit he issued was to the people of the parish for their cooperation and drive to keep their community safe.
“We will continue to be vigilant and appreciate the cooperation of the people of St. Charles Parish, who in most cases do not hesitate to provide information about actual and potential crime and the perpetrators thereof. This is not the case in many jurisdictions. Cooperation and assistance from the public is also an essential factor,” said Champagne.