Homeowners aren’t the only ones concerned about the crime rate.
Companies and businesses also consider the crime statistics for an area when they decide to open in a new location. Those choosing Madison County find an area dedicated to keeping the crime rate low through a partnership of law enforcement agencies, said Tim Coursey, executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Authority.
“Having a low crime rate is extremely important for those who want to work here or live here,” he said. “Companies feel the same way. It’s important to keep the crime rate low.”
At a recent symposium hosted by the Madison County Business League, law enforcement officials said the public plays a role in ensuring that they live in a safe community.
Daniel McMullen, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jackson division, calls it “one fight, one team.”
“The fight against crime relies on citizens and the business community,” he said. “Partnering is the new mantra. Today it’s not an option. It’s a requirement. It extends to the business community. It extends to citizens.”
Law enforcement agencies, elected officials and citizens work together in their community to keep crime down, McMullen said. The FBI collects Uniform Crime Reports that keep up with the violent crimes that happen across the country, and the latest statistics for 2011 were released a few weeks ago.
“This information is important to the community so they know what crime looks like,” McMullen said. “Crime is a major impediment to economic growth.”
The violent crime rate — the number of offenses per 100,000 inhabitants — for 2010-2011 in Madison County was 114.9, compared to 117.3 in Rankin County and 825.4 in Hinds County.
“We’ve have a 7 percent reduction in crime since this time last year,” Sheriff Randy Tucker told the packed house at the symposium. “It is our standing together as a community that makes it work.”
In the UCR statistics reported to the FBI for 2011, Madison County had a total of 31 violent crimes in the nonincorporated areas that included one murder, three rapes, five robberies and 22 aggravated assaults. That was down from the 40 violent crimes reported for 2010. The FBI report also showed that Madison had 20 violent crimes, including one rape, seven robberies and 12 aggravated assaults and that Ridgeland had 35 total with three murders, eight robberies and 24 aggravated assaults.
In his first year in office, Tucker has started a community advisory group of 11 citizens to report citizens’ concerns and suggestions for improving safety. Tucker said he is always open to the public’s input on how the sheriff’s department can be more accountable.
“We want to do everything we can to make you safe,” Tucker said. “Let me know what I can do by sending a suggestion.”
A new website, sheriffrandytucker.com, has been created to keep the public informed and allow residents to communicate on what the department can do better, he said.
At the symposium, District Attorney Michael Guest said that citizens can do their part to aid law enforcement by showing up for jury duty when they are summoned.
“Look at it as an opportunity to make Madison County safe. It is vitally important to our success,” Guest said.
BY LUCY WEBER • LWEBER@MCHERALD.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2012