Although 2020 was a rough year for many due the COVID-19 pandemic, a positive aspect that came out of the year and having to quarantine, lockdown and stay inside more than most would like to, was that overall crime decreased locally compared to past years.
Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton Sumner shared crime statistics for 2020 with the New Era and the public and compared those stats to the last decade of crime in the city, which has shown a steady decline in overall crime.
According to Sumner and HPD, for 2020 Hopkinsville had seen 2,073 overall crimes committed for the year, while 2019 had seen 2,321, 2018 had 2,284 and 2017 had 2,190.
The rest of the decade’s crime statistics are as follows:
2016: 2,201 crimes committed
2015: 2,354 crimes committed
2014: 2,338 crimes committed
2013: 2,839 crimes committed
2012: 2,978 crimes committed
2011: 2,818 crimes committed
2010: 2,655 crimes committed
Even with that in mind, 2020’s overall local crime seemed to be fairly less prominent than the last few years.
Sumner said that although the trend for the last decade has been decreasing, the COVID-19 pandemic had a large effect on the amount of crime committed in the past year.
“You have to be realistic in the sense that in a lot of 2020, people were staying home more because of COVID,” Sumner said in an interview. “So, what that does is, the majority of the crimes pretty much everywhere and specifically here in Hopkinsville are crimes of opportunity.
“With most people being at home, a lot of those petty thefts and crimes of opportunity were decreased, because people were home instead of gone to work or to school. So, I really think that COVID played some part in that crime decrease.”
Sumner added that trend is also happening across the country, not just locally.
Sumner also explained that of that trend, statistically, the most popular crimes in Hopkinsville have been thefts and criminal mischief, which Sumner stated were things like individuals scratching cars or damaging property.
While overall crime has been decreasing locally and nationally over the last decade, and 2020’s overall crime rate was down significantly more than 2019 because of the pandemic, Sumner shared that certain crimes have increased in 2020 compared to previous years.
“Early in the pandemic, I remember calling Sanctuary (Inc.) personnel and asking, everybody had been seeing a rise in domestic violence,” Sumner said, adding domestic violence means violence or abuse between couples or family members.
He continued to add that he had called and asked Sanctuary about the trend of domestic violence as some of those occurrences weren’t reported to police for HPD to keep record of it.
“Sanctuary is a place where, especially females, can go to and seek shelter that don’t have to go via the police,” Sumner said. “So, yeah, domestic violence crimes, especially in the beginning (of 2020), when we were really having more of a lockdown situation, things like that were definitely on an increase.”
According to Sumner and HPD’s statistics, violent crimes have also been on a rise nationally. That trend has continued to increase through 2020 and over the last decade.
Sumner explained that violent crime is composed of four offenses, which includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
“Violent crimes are defined in the UCR (Uniform Crime Reports) Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force,” Sumner wrote in a press release.
While the trend has shown to steadily increase nationally, Sumner said violent crime has been on a slight decrease over the last decade.
Despite that, 2020 had a fairly higher increase of violent crime compared to the previous three years.
According to HPD stats, 2020 had seen 107 violent crimes committed while 2019 had 88, 2018 had 97 and 2017 had 90.
Rest of the stats for the decade are as follows:
2016: 111 violent crimes committed
2015: 110 violent crimes committed
2014: 112 violent crimes committed
2013: 121 violent crimes committed
2012: 148 violent crimes committed
2011: 132 violent crimes committed
2010: 138 violent crimes committed
Despite 2020’s violent crime trend being higher than the last few years, Sumner shared that Hopkinsville is still safer from violent crime in 2020 than earlier in the decade.
“If you look back at 2010 and let’s say 2014 timeframe, you’ll notice those violent crimes numbers there are higher even than they are this year, which we are saying is high, so we are still a lot safer, if you will, than we were seven, six, 10 years ago,” Sumner said.
Sumner continued to share that while 2020’s violent crime had increased compared to 2019, ‘18 and ‘17, the amount of murders and deaths have decreased. Instead, he said the increase came from having more rapes and aggravated assaults than in the previous few years.
He also added that in 2020 HPD had received a large number of shots fired calls, but most of those calls did not include any injuries or deaths.
“Luckily, thank goodness, it was mostly just empty cars getting shot or vacant homes — we had a couple deaths, but people weren’t being injured and killed,” Sumner said.
Sumner shared that in order for the community to decrease overall crime and especially violent crimes, the community has to come together and work with each other to keep an eye out for crime and to immediately report and be willing to testify in court.
“Relationships and having open dialogue is key, but we have to do it as a community together,” Sumner said. “(The police) can do some things, but together, we can do a whole lot better.”