Troy officials: Crime stat survey misleading

Published 3:00 am Friday, December 12, 2014

A recent report ranking Troy among Alabama’s most dangerous cities is misleading and uses suspect methodology, say local law enforcement officials.

“We would have been in the top half compared to where they put us,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said. “But, a lot of those lists are made to insight reaction.”

The study was conducted by Movoto, a California-based real estate agency, and ranked cities in Alabama based on per capita reports of major crimes during 2012. It was recently released and circulated on the web and social media platforms.

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To get the rankings, company officials said they compared data for murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and vehicle theft. After comparing the data for those categories, Movoto then summarized the data into four categories: murders, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes. The study omitted any city in Alabama that did not report information to the FBI for 2012, and then weighted each of the four smaller categories so murders, violent crimes and property crimes each accounted for 30 percent of the study and the amount of total crimes per capita accounted for 10 percent of the study.

Readers who ventured to Movoto’s website to read the original list may have noticed the website dictated Troy as the ninth worse city, but then later refers to Troy as the eighth worse city. “We don’t want to terrify parents of Troy University students or anything (it’s a fine school), but this place earned its No. 8 ranking on our most dangerous list for a few good reasons,” the website reads.

While Movoto provided accurate numbers for incidents of crime in reported by the City of Troy Police Department, Chief Jimmy Ennis pointed out the numbers showed a skewed version of the city’s law enforcement as crimes in the three categories have decreased since 2012.

The information for 2012 shows that for population inside the city limits of Troy was approximately 18,097 people and there were 115 violent crimes, three murders, five rapes, 18 robberies, 89 aggravated assaults, 890 property crimes, 251 burglaries, 592 larceny-theft cases and 47 motor vehicle thefts.

For 2011, Troy Police Department showed the population was slightly more at 18,120 people living within city limits. For 2011, there were 141 violent crimes, one murder, seven rapes, 30 robberies, 103 aggravated assaults, 945 property crimes, 648 larceny-thefts and 47 motor vehicle thefts.

For 2013, the police department’s URC, or uniformed recording codes, showed the department covered 59 violent crimes, three murders, five rapes, 19 robberies, 32 aggravated assaults, 914 property crimes, 228 burglaries, 651 larceny-thefts and 35 motor vehicle thefts.

For 2014, the data to date, showed the department recorded 57 violent crimes, no murders, nine rapes, 18 robberies, 30 aggravated assaults, 834 property crimes, 192 burglaries, 612 larceny-thefts and just 30 vehicle thefts for the year.

The Movoto study’s percentages were gathered using a per capita, or per person, basis, and Ennis also pointed out the study focused only on the city limits of Troy, but police jurisdiction covers a three-mile radius out of the city limits.

“Our stats are not just within the city limits of Troy,” Ennis said. “They give the population … in the city limits of Troy. Our reports reflect anything inside the city limits and three miles out. I can’t tell you how many people live out in that three miles, but I do know that there are 672 square miles in the county, and as a police jurisdiction we cover 160 square miles total. Just 28-square miles are what encompass the city limits.”

Reeves said the city’s law enforcement officers had worked tirelessly to remedy any crime under their control over the last few years and the fruit of their labors could be seen in the quality of life throughout the city and county.

“Regardless of what (Movoto’s) methodology was, from the time I’ve become mayor public safety has been top priority for me,” Reeves said. “When I took office we had 49 sworn police officers, and now we have 56. We have greatly increased the police budget, and we worked very hard to make Troy safe. We do that every day. I certainly appreciate what the city council has allowed us to do.”

Lt. Bryan Weed, public information officer with Troy police, said much of the decrease in crime had been due to an increase of manpower within the police department. Weed said that since 2011, the number of officers employed by the police department had increased and the amount of crimes had been nearly cut in half since 2012.

“I think this shows that what chief has done in his time with his number increase of officers that he’s been giving by the council and the mayor,” Weed said. “It shows that this increase is helping, because it’s obvious by what they’re going by that the numbers have been cut in half. I think that’s an important things for citizens in the City of Troy to know.”

Ennis, who said he took no credit for any of the developments in the police department, said the decrease in crime was more than likely due to the increase in manpower the department had seen since 2011.

“I think it’s due to the diligence of our officers out on the streets and our detectives solving crimes,” Ennis said. “They’re the people out there solving crimes every minute of every day and night. They’re the ones that the credit needs to be given to. These numbers don’t lie. We aren’t using different numbers our sources than this article is using, but we’re looking at the trends that these numbers are coming from.”