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TBI crime report reveals decline in murders; increase in meth labs

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s recently released its “2013 Crime in Tennessee” report shows that crime declined statewide for a third year in a row, and Franklin County mirrored the pattern.

crime reportAccording to the report, the number of murders decreased by nearly 20 percent from the previous year and the number of reported DUI arrests dropped 10 percent.

Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said there has been a drop in crime in the county and the call volume is down from the previous year.

“Our call volume is down from 91,000 in 2012 to 89,000 in 2013, and we have seen an overall decrease in crime in the county,” Fuller said.

The report’s findings show that while there is a 5.4 percent decline in serious crimes since 2012, there remains continued challenges with increased meth cases and other drugs as well as crimes against society throughout the state.

Law officers reported finding 1,995 meth labs throughout the state in 2013, a jump of more than 11 percent since 2012.

Fuller noted that there is a discrepancy between the increase in meth labs in the state and what is happening with meth labs in Franklin County due to the huge impact the “Stop Meth Now” campaign and local ordinances have had on the production of meth in the area.

“We have seen a significant difference on the meth home front with a 70 percent drop in meth labs since the prescription only ordinances went into effect last July,” he said.

Officials expect to continue to see a decrease in meth labs in the area, as long as prescription only ordinances limiting the sale of pseudoepherdrine-containing drugs remain in effect.

Tennessee lawmakers recently passed statewide legislation limiting the amount of medications containing pseudoephedrine — the main ingredient used in the production of meth. They are in hopes that it could impact next year’s meth lab numbers.

However, law enforcement officials do not expect it to have the kind of impact prescriptiononly legislation could have.

Domestic violence continues to be a problem for law enforcement agencies, with those offenses making up more than 50 percent of all crimes against persons

Another area of concern is weapons law violations, which show a marked increase, up nearly 30 percent from 2012.

According to the report, Franklin County continues to see problems with drug and alcohol related crimes, theft, assaults, burglaries and domestic violence.

The report shows the following offenses were reported in Franklin County in 2013;

• 74 drug/narcotic violations

• 34 drug/narcotic equipment violations

• 44 burglaries

• 95 vandalism/ destruction of property

• 107 theft from building

• 28 motor theft

• 39 aggravated assault

• 84 simple assault

• 92 intimidation

• 51 DUI

• 5 weapons violations

• 1 murder

Numbers for Winchester were slightly higher for drug violations and assault charges and lower for theft in comparison to county numbers.

The report shows the following offenses were reported in Franklin County in 2013;

• 126 drug/narcotic violations

• 51 drug/narcotic equipment violations

• 47 burglaries

• 77 vandalism/ destruction of property

• 53 theft from building

• 13 motor theft

• 52 aggravated assault

• 142 simple assault

• 42 intimidation

• 62 DUI

• 4 weapons violations

• 0 murder

Winchester Police Chief Dennis Young echoed Fullers remarks on the lower number of meth labs in Winchester, compared to other cities across the state due to the enforcement of city meth ordinances.

“We have seen a 70 percent decrease in meth labs in Franklin County after the ordinances went into effect, and other cities in the state with similar ordinances in place have also seen decreases of 40 to 70 percent,” he said. “We are starting to see meth labs increase in municipalities like Nashville now where they stayed in rural areas before.”

Young said that the recent legislation passed by lawmakers will not be enough to curb the production of meth and noted that lawmakers also failed to provide funding for meth lab clean up, so that burden will fall on local taxpayers.

Another area of concern for Winchester is prescription drug abuse.

Young said there were 16 overdoes deaths from prescription drugs in Franklin County last year.

“It is a major issue that we are struggling to address, prescription drug abuse is bypassing all other drugs locally and nationally,” he said. “We are trying to come up with a plan to solve the problem, but we are going to need community support.”

Domestic violence and theft is an ongoing issue for law enforcement agencies, and Winchester is no exception.

“Violence and theft usually go hand in hand with drug and alcohol abuse,” Young said. “We try to be as proactive as we can with addressing drug problems in the community.

“We are going to be working with the FC Prevention Coalition in collaboration with local, state and federal partners to host a medical professional forum in June in Winchester to address prescription drug abuse.”

Young said that his department continues to receive a lot of support locally and across the state for the meth ordinances and the work they are doing with the FC Prevention Coalition.

As a disclaimer, the TBI strongly discourages the ranking and comparison of jurisdictions and their crime rates by the data in the 2013 report. Demographic, socio-economic, and other factors out of the control of law enforcement contribute to the nature of the crimes committed, TBI says.

Crime varies from place to place and ranking the agencies solely on numbers would neither be fair to the agencies nor their communities, according to TBI.

The full report is available online at crime_stats/stats_analys.shtml