Area homicides up, violent crime down in first 6 months

Published on Saturday, 20 July 2013 23:03 - Written by By Kenneth Dean kdean@tylerpaper.com

Homicides are up in Smith County this year from 2012 for the first six months, but each case was solved. 

Tyler Police Department and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office records show four homicides in Tyler and three in the county through June 30, double from last year. 

Violent crime was down, but property crimes were up. A look at the number of alcohol-related crimes show such incidents were down by more than 15 percent from last year.

“You cannot predict homicides, as they go up and down each year for a variety of reasons. But all of the homicides in the city have been cleared with arrests,” Tyler Police Assistant Chief Steve Sharron told the newspaper.

In June 2012 the department had worked only two homicides, but this year the department has worked four with a total of 10 people charged. 

“We had some interesting capital murder cases as the last two we have worked have both had four suspects and all have been charged,” he said.

In the county, the sheriff’s office has worked three homicides in the first six months as opposed to four for the entire year in 2012, and Sheriff Larry Smith said his agency is proud of the fact all of the 2013 homicides have been solved, and two from 2012 also have been solved.

Tyler police records show there have been 17 sexual assaults this year as opposed to 19 last year. There were nine more robberies in 2012 over the 38 this year. In the city there were 169 aggravated assault cases worked compared to 172 during same period last year.

Burglaries were down from 456 to 434, but thefts were up by 51 over last year’s 1,527, and 2,105 auto thefts were reported this year, 57 more than the first six months of 2012. 

In the county, the sheriff’s office six-month records indicate 273 assaults, seven robberies, 17 sexual assaults, 317 burglaries, 603 thefts and 69 vehicle thefts. The 2012 records show there were two homicides for the year, 40 sexual assaults, 21 robberies, 475 assaults, 777 burglaries, 1,014 thefts and 167 vehicle thefts.

“We recently cleared more than 100 building burglaries, and I think the clearance rate will be even better next reporting period,” Sheriff Smith said Friday.

Smith said his agency is working with other law enforcement in hopes of creating a communitywide task force to combat illegal narcotics, which feeds property crimes and spills over into violent crimes such as homicide.

“Many homicides are of a domestic nature, but the last two we have had were directly ties to narcotics. We are working with the other agencies to become more active in illegal drug investigations,” he said.

In Tyler the city’s records also show both driving under the influence and public intoxications were down this year with 170 DUIs last year and 144 this year. There were 175 public intoxications in 2012 and 146  this year. Simple assaults are down in the city from 710 in 2012 to 611 in the first six months.