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IMPACT Good policing results in drop in local crime

Good policing is essential to making a community a desirable place to live. We have that in Paducah and McCracken County, as recently released crime statistics show, and we should be grateful.

Two reports for calendar 2013 were released by the Paducah Police Department and Sheriff Jon Hayden in mid-March. Both reports show significant declines in violent crime - murder, rape, robbery and assault - which were down 12.6 percent in the city and 18 percent in the county. Blessedly, there were no murders in the city or county in 2013.

Both departments also reported generally good numbers with regard to property crimes like burglary, larceny and auto theft. That grouping was down a combined 7.2 percent in the city. In the county, burglaries were down 36 percent and larceny and auto theft also declined.

Data also showed fatalities from auto wrecks in the county fell to three in 2013 from seven the year before, a 57 percent decline. In the city, injury collisions in 2013 dropped by 19 percent.

And in categories where crime numbers were up the numbers were often driven by more aggressive, proactive enforcement. For instance the county recorded a 19 percent rise in drug offenses. But as Sheriff Hayden noted in comments to a Sun reporter, when it comes to drug enforcement authorities gauge success differently. The drug arrest number likely says more about aggressive efforts to find and root out local drug activity than it does an increase in overall drug activity, and in that light the statistic is good news, not bad.

As Hayden also notes, drug addiction contributes directly to many of the other crimes, violent and property, that make up the annual crime statistics. Taking greater numbers of drug sellers and abusers off the street naturally reduces crime rates in those other categories, and that seems to be reflected in the county's 2013 numbers.

The Paducah Police likewise saw success through a couple of proactive efforts. The reduction in injury accidents is a direct result of the work of the department's special Traffic Enforcement Unit, which targeted speeding and other traffic offenses in portions of the city with the highest accident rates. The effort, not popular with some chastened motorists, clearly is having the right impact (and we continue to support it).

Paducah police also took proactive steps after shoplifting activity caused larceny reports to spike 15 percent in 2012. In addition to increasing police visibility at prime shopping locations, the department contacted and worked with managers and loss prevention specialists at several area chain stores and merchants at Kentucky Oaks Mall. The result of that effort was an 8.6 percent drop in larceny cases in 2013.

So the 2013 crime statistics tell the story communities like to hear: as crime goes, there's less of it here than there used to be. But those good results didn't just happen. They are the result of city and county law enforcement paying attention to problem areas and acting creatively and forcefully to address them.

The hard work in 2013 by local law enforcement paid important dividends for all who live and work here. We express our praise and gratitude to the two local departments for their fine efforts.

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