LAWTON, Okla._A recently released survey of crime rates nationwide placed Lawton in the top ten when compared to other cities of similar size.
The rankings were calculated by the CQ Press which uses numbers from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system. It looks specifically at the number of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts that occur throughout the year. The new rankings also show that Lawton is well above the national average when it comes to the overall crime rate, with only 19 cities in the nation ranking above it.
Lawton Police Chief, James Smith, said that the crime in 2013 was practically level with 2012 but he is the first to admit that these rankings are startling because no one wants their city listed as having one of the highest crime rates in the nation. In the ranking of cities between 75 and 100 thousand people, Lawton is tenth. This ranking is something Chief Smith says is startling, "I don't want to see our city as one of the top ten in crime wise in the nation so it caused me pause."
Chief Smith walked through crimes reported last year and noted a change in types of crimes, "We had an up-tick in our violent crimes but we had a decrease in our property crimes." He is not sold on the fact that numbers used to create the rankings truly reflect the city's crime rates, "That concerns me as to how they got their numbers."
Captain Craig Akard agrees with Chief Smith's concerns, "Those are raw statistics. Those are reported cases." To better understand what the results are saying, take 2013 for example: 77 rapes were recorded but only 45 cases were actually investigated. Captain Akard said that doesn't totally make the statistics unfounded, "And those statistics don't get reflected in the top ten cities. Does that mean that just because we can show that we are not in the top ten? No, because other cities have the same issues."
When the raw statistics are compared to what can be substantiated, the statistics are lower but are still alarming. Luckily the violent crimes being reported are not proving to be random. Captain Akard believes Lawton should feel lucky that random shootings don't typically happen, "What should concern everyone is that random occurrence that someone gets shot that has nothing to do with the argument that going on. It's the innocent victim that is across the street or down the road. And luckily we haven't seen that activity."
Chief Smith admitted that the City of Lawton has its problems but he is confident his department is taking the necessary steps, "Our officers are out on the streets everyday doing some great things."
Lawton police have solved 11 of the 14 homicides in 2013 which is well above the national average. The department is currently working in areas known for violent crime to better enforce city code and eliminate problems that tend to lead to violent crimes. They are also working to apply for a variety of grants that will allow them to take a more proactive stance against crime.