By: Natalie M. Zeigler
Numbers do not often lie, but they can be misleading when cited out of context. For a city the size of Hartsville, statistics can be interpreted in a way that doesn’t really give an accurate picture of all that makes this municipality a safe place to work, play and stay. While it may seem that the nation is facing influxes in criminality, crime rates in Hartsville remain dramatically lower than the national average.
Thanks to the hard work of Police Chief Jerry Thompson and Hartsville law enforcement, 2017 saw a decrease in crime across major categories. The total number of serious crimes, significantly declined; like Robbery down from 36 reported robberies in 2010 to 16 in 2017. We also saw major changes within the year. Aggravated assaults reduced, from 92 in 2016 to 70 in 2017. Similarly, simple assaults dropped from 190 to 170. There were also decreases in shoplifting, sex offences, and fraud offences.
Of course, some categories of crime increased last year, including a 400% increase in identity Theft. This sounds dramatic without considering the size of Hartsville’s population. 400% is much less alarming when we understand that the number of identity thefts reported in 2017 increased from one (1) incident to five (5) reported incidents. Another example, Counterfeiting increased over 25%, from 56 reported incidents in 2016 to 74 in 2017.
Hartsville is fortunate to have a very effective police force with a commitment to community-oriented policing. Initiatives like the Hartsville Safe Communities program led by Lt. Tenyonde Richardson is proactively helping to curb crime in our area. The promotion of Lt. Brian Rudick to the position of Hartville Police Special Operations, Crime Analysis and Business Liaison reinforces the commitment to serve and protect. Also, the final months of 2017 saw the Hartsville Police Department receive a grant of $100,000 to hire a DUI enforcement officer. This officer will be responsible for responding to possible drunk driving calls to field test drivers and determine if the person is, in fact, driving under the influence—making our streets safer.
In 2017, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety awarded the Hartsville Police Department with agency for the year of its size, in recognition of the steps our local law-enforcement use to ensure Hartsville is one of the safest small cities in the region.
Crime may always number among the most pressing issues of any community, threatening a sense of wellbeing. However, the Hartsville Police Department has a higher clearance rate for cases than the national average in nearly every category. The previous year gave us quite a few reasons to be proud of the work that our local law enforcement officers do every day. I’m looking forward to seeing more of their achievements in building a better community this year.
Natalie Zeigler is the City Manager of Hartsville. For more information, call City Hall at 843-383-3015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.