Crime
4:37 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Two Major Cities in the Triad See Decrease in Violent Crime Rates

Winston-Salem Police Chief Barry Rountree gave the media preliminary crime statistics for 2013 on Friday. The department also compared crime rates for the past three years. The final crime statistics will be reported in the next few weeks to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.
Credit Keri Brown

Overall, violent crimes in the city of Winston-Salem dropped 8.2 percent over the past three years including rapes and aggravated assaults. But one area that law enforcement is focusing on is homicides. The number of murders in the city dipped to eight in 2012, but it went back up to 15 last year, the same number as in 2011.

“We have proof and information that several of our homicides from 2013 were domestic violence-related and some of them were drug offenses,” said Barry Rountree, Winston-Salem Police Chief.

Rountree said despite the increase, Winston-Salem’s homicide rate for the past year is lower than cities with similar population sizes including Greensboro, Charlotte and Durham.

According to the preliminary statistics released on Friday, Winston-Salem has a higher homicide clearance rate than the state and national average. This is the number of murder cases that are solved. Rountree said improvements have been made to the department’s ballistics, fingerprinting and other forensic testing.

The city also reported drops in property crimes including burglaries, larceny and motor vehicle theft. They were down about 6.8 percent from 2011 through 2013.

Rountree said one of the big reasons the city is reporting better crime statistics is because the department has stepped up efforts to improve communication with community members.

“There’s also more police presence on city streets. In November, my department added seven officers for a new street crime unit. We are also increasing awareness programs about domestic violence prevention,” said Rountree.

A community forum to discuss ways to prevent violent crime will be held February 1 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the Anderson Center at Winston-Salem State University.

Meanwhile, Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller says Greensboro is the safest it’s been in more than 35 years. Last week, he reported violent crime is down by 7 percent in 2013. However, the city reported increases in shoplifting and rape.