Lawton's current crime stats both good and bad

Lawton_There has been a slight increase in Lawton's crime statistics over the past year.  But, 2007's statistics, when compared to the last 35 years, many crimes are happening at about the same rate - or even less.  Police released the findings to 7News today, and the most alarming statistic was that of robberies which are up about 79% from 2006.

However, in 1973 - 34 years ago - there were three more robberies than last year.  The Chief says the numbers aren't good - but, they're not bad either.  If you look at the percentages, you may think otherwise; but for the most part, the actual number of crimes really hasn't fluctuated much - even since the '70s when Lawton's population was much lower.

For example, there were 11 homicides reported last year compared with nine in '06.  "One would have been an 11 percent increase, two is 22 percent over the year before.  And, if you have, like, five in one year and ten the next, that's a 100 percent increase," says Chief Ronnie Smith from the Lawton Police Department.  But, in 1973, Lawton reported 18 homicides - the most in 35 years.  "You just never know on homicides how many you're going to have," he says.

Rapes are down, but are 9% over '06 statistics - that's 75 fewer reported.  However, assaults are up 20% - 135 more cases were reported in '07 than '06.  And although robberies are up, the Chief says burglaries aren't.  "Everybody was saying our burglaries were going through the roof.  Compared to 2006 it went up three percent.  That's about three burglaries from the year before," he says.

One area Smith is concerned about is fatality car crashes.  There were eight last year in Lawton - up from three in '06.  But, he says traffic enforcement isn't to blame.  "We actually wrote 534 more citations last year than we did the year before," he says.

Through focused efforts, Smith says drive-by shootings are down while drug busts are up.  But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  "When you make more arrests, of course your crime stats are going to be higher because of these drugs and stuff," he says.  "But, at the same time, you're getting them off the street.  And you hope that will affect the next year's stat...we'll just have to wait and see."

Police say these statistics have about a three to five percent margin of error, partly because of the way they were calculated this year.  Smith says they used to have someone verify each report by hand.  But, as you can imagine, it took a lot of time and labor.  The Chief will present these statistics to city hall for the upcoming State of the City Address.