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Camden City Council hears crime review from chief

Posted: March 26, 2015 6:14 p.m.
Updated: March 27, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Camden Police Department (CPD) Chief Joe Floyd presented Camden City Council the CPD’s annual statistical survey for 2014 during a work session Tuesday. The CPD tracks a wide variety of data, including types of crimes reported, calls, arrests, and traffic statistics, Floyd told council.

“This is a document we started compiling about 16 years ago,” Floyd said. “We can pull statistics from our system and do an end of the year analysis of the data to determine where we need to concentrate resources and what changes are occurring in the city.”

Overall, the number of incidents reported rose slightly, from 2,942 in 2013 to 2,983 in 2014. However, a closer look reveals some interesting trends, Floyd noted.

The number of alcohol related incidents rose slightly, including a spike in underage drinking incidents. Many of those incidents resulted from enforcement efforts at Carolina Cup events, especially during the last few years, Floyd said.

“SLED is sending the most agents this year they ever have sent us -- and their focus will be underage alcohol violations,” he said.

Floyd also pointed out an increase in reported larcenies, particularly shoplifting. He said, however, this is not necessarily an increase in incidents but rather a sign of increased enforcement among retailers such as Walmart.

“Walmart has really stepped up (its) enforcement efforts, both electronically and out on the floor,” he said.

Statistics show an increase in overall assaults reported. However, the vast majority are third degree offenses. Floyd said incidences of criminal sexual conduct and first degree assault have decreased.

“No one would say a third degree assault is a minor crime, but they tend to be less severe -- verbal and minor physical altercations rather than assaults with weapons or severe physical attacks,” he said.  

There was a sharp drop in burglaries, which was good news, Floyd said.

“We are happy about that decrease,” he said.

The statistics also showed drops in drug related offenses and robberies, Floyd said.

The CPD report also touches on traffic statistics, including numbers of stops made, warning and tickets issued, types of enforcement activities and areas of concentration. 

The data also shows the areas, times of day, dates, root causes, and other such data regarding traffic accidents. While there were more than 500 traffic accidents reported in 2014 resulting in 155 injuries, there were no fatalities in 2014.

The report also showed the number of hours officers worked in public events.

“Council has been generous with overtime -- these officers work hard, many hours above and beyond -- but it’s good because it puts us out in the community,” he said. 

Officers made some 919 arrests in 2014; all of these resulted in incarcerations, Floyd said. Only 15 of those incidents required officers to use force beyond verbal command, he said. Of those incidents, one required the use of pepper spray, eight required empty hand control, two required presentation of a Taser, two required the actual discharge of a Taser, and two required presentation of a firearm.

No officer had to deploy an ASP baton or discharge a firearm, Floyd said.

Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford asked Floyd if there were statistics on incidents by race, noting problems in other communities, most notably Ferguson, Mo. She also said she does not believe the CPD has any such problems, but did want to know whether such information is tracked.

“This report does not have that break down, but we do keep those statistics and I have statistics for every officer,” Floyd said. “Five years ago, the state started requiring departments in South Carolina to keep those statistics -- we had that in place in our department five years before that. And we run analysis on those statistics twice a year so we can spot any potential patterns and address them immediately.”

Floyd said this is one major component of his department’s effort to maintain community trust and a cornerstone tenet is an emphasis for officers not to bring personal feelings into the carrying out of their duties at all. If someone has a complaint about an officer, Floyd said he can immediately pull data and analyze enforcement activities of that officer and address any issues.

He also pointed out a major flaw in statistics being reported from Ferguson, which is the lack of statistics showing officer-initiated arrests compared to incidents called in by the public. 

But ultimately, it comes down to accountability and public trust, he said.

“We work very hard to maintain that public trust,” Floyd said. “Departments that are having these problems probably lost public trust long before these incidents were reported in the media. But this is very important to us -- sooner or later, someone out there is going to make a mistake. When that happens, we want the public to know that we are going to take responsibility and address it immediately.”

Councilwoman Laurie Parks thanked Floyd for the job the CPD does.

“I feel safe here,” she said. 

In other business, council received updates from Economic Development Director Wade Luther regarding the Bailey Bill, which is legislation that establishes tax breaks for historic structures, and on the Rhame Arena renovation project.

During council’s regular session, members passed second and final reading of an ordinance creating a multi-county industrial and business park within the corporate limits of the city and authorizing an inter-governmental agreement between the city and Kershaw County. The ordinance is part of local intergovernmental efforts to secure and establish economic development inducements, including a fee in lieu of taxes (FILOT) agreement for Kershaw Health Medical Center, which is being acquired by Capella Healthcare in partnership with MUSC Health.

Under this agreement the city will re-direct back to Kershaw County its portion of the fees generated by the FILOT. This is being done to allow the county to take over and operate the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) formerly operated by Kershaw Health. 

Council also passed proclamations designating April as Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness Month and National Child Abuse and neglect prevention Month, as well as a proclamation designating the week of April 6-12 as Boykin Spaniel Week.

Council also passed resolutions allowing consumption of beer and wine at the Town Green Finally Friday Concert, to be held March 27 and at the Boykin Spaniel Society Board reception, to be held April 9.

Council recognized members of the police department and members of Camden Explorer Post 911.

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