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Campbell County has high crime and misdemeanors

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By Susan Sharp

When the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released its crime statistics for 2009, Campbell County found itself in an unfavorable position.

The numbers, reported by law enforcement departments in each jurisdiction, showed that Campbell County has one of the highest crimes rates in the state, according to the TBI report.

These are year to date totals that provide a “snapshot” of the crime that is occurring in a county, said TBI Spokesperson Kristin Helms.

“The numbers were reported to us directly from each individual agency,” Helms said.

For Campbell County, that snapshot presented a grim picture.

In 2009, 4,986 crimes were committed across the county, the TBI reported. That means with an overall reported population of 40,936, there are 121.80 crimes being committed per 1,000 individuals. Those numbers put Campbell County in the number four spot out of 96 counties.

“I am surprised by that,” Campbell County Mayor William Baird said of the county’s ranking. While the mayor was aware that the county has the highest per capita child abuse cases in the state along with one of the high rates for domestic violence, Baird said the TBI’s report was new information.

It is also information that doesn’t bode well for the recruitment of new industry. Companies investigate the areas they are considering moving to. This includes looking at items such the educational system, the drop out rate and the crime rate, according to Baird. When companies are faced with numbers such as the ones presented by the TBI they “will maybe go on down the road to Anderson County,” Baird said.

Of the counties that landed ahead of Campbell County in the TBI report, two of those are much larger metropolitan areas.

Shelby County, who has the highest crime rate in the state, saw 137,753 crimes reported in 2009, according to the TBI. With an estimated population of 906,825 that puts Shelby County’s crime rate at 151.91 per 1,000 residents.

The second highest crime rate in the state belongs to Madison County. It is a rural county with 96,376 residents. However, with 13, 744 crimes reported per 1,000 individuals its crime rate is 142.61.

Davidson County, another metropolitan area, reported 85,518 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2009, the TBI report said. With 626,144 people living in Davidson County, the estimated crime rate is 138.18.

Coming in behind Campbell County with a 121.21 rate per 1,000 residents is McMinn County. Among its 52,511 there were 6,365 crimes reported in 2009, according to TBI statistics.

Campbell County was the smallest area among the top five counties with the highest crime rates.

Baird acknowledged the county’s spot on the list was not acceptable. In fact, he said it was an area that needed to be corrected. However, doing so would not be “easy” or “quick.” “It will take a community effort,” he said adding that the Weed and Seed effort was one way the community could come together with local law enforcement to combat crime in the county. But Baird also had another suggestion.

“We have to have more cooperation with our county and city law enforcement,” Baird said. “Law enforcement needs to learn to work together. We are all one community.”

When the numbers looked at are closer to home, Campbell County continues to sit in the proverbial hot seat.

The Eighth Judicial District is comprised of Campbell, Claiborne, Union, Scott and Fentress Counties.

Across the district Campbell County is the only one to have a triple digit crime rate. Scott County has a 97.37 per 1,000 residents with 2,146 crimes reported in 2009, the TBI reported. Following in the district is Claiborne County. TBI numbers revealed that in the rural farming community, 2,295 crimes were reported in 2009. That translates into 72.95 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Fentress County, an area plagued by prescription drug abuse, had a 66.96 crime rate per 1,000 people. With an overall population of 17,667, 1,183 crimes were reported last year for the county.

Union County with its estimated population of 19,008 only had 810 crimes reported in 2009, according to the TBI. For every 1,000 residents that resulted in a 42.61 crime rate.

TBI receives the statistics directly from each department through the TIBRS (Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System), Helms said. They are then compiled into the overall report. In an effort to ensure accuracy, the report is released to all law enforcement agencies one week prior to general distribution.

After the report is reviewed by the agencies and they are provided an opportunity to correct any errors, the TBI then releases the report to the public, Helms said.

For more information on the report visit www.tncrimeonline.com