Photo by Robin May

Chief Jim Craft

Twenty-twelve was a year that will stay etched in the collective memory of Lafayette for years to come. For Police Chief Jim Craft, it’ll hopefully be one of those years you can look back on a decade from now and call an anomaly.

It was a year highlighted by the high-profile slaying of UL coed Mickey Shunick, budget cuts and internal discord between a mutinous group of disgruntled officers and higher ups within the department and Lafayette Consolidated Government.

"It was a tough year, especially coming off an all-time low in 2011,” says Craft, who spoke Thursday with The IND following the release of the 2012 crime data for the city of Lafayette.

The city’s homicide rate jumped 100 percent last year, going from six to 12 homicides between 2011 and 2012. Crime overall also rose in 2012, finishing the year 2.4 percent higher than in 2011.

“An anomaly? I hope it was,” Craft says of last year’s spike in homicides. “Homicides are such a random type of crime. They’re hard to predict.”

Craft points to his time working the homicide beat back in the 1980s, when homicides went from as low as three one year to 20 another. On average though, homicides typically stay between six and 10 a year, notes the chief.

There were some bright spots in 2012, says Craft. Those positives included year-to-year decreases in the number of reported rapes, robberies, assaults and auto thefts. The number of adults arrested also dropped between 2011 and 2012.

“Our biggest challenge in 2013 will be providing the same level of service the people of Lafayette are accustomed to, but with fewer people,” says Craft, adding the department is currently funded to fill its ranks with 258 armed officers and 64 civilian employees. “Because of budget cuts, we lost 10 full-time officers in November 2011, so it is going to be difficult providing that same level of service to the community.”

Courtesy of Lafayette PD
A five-year look at Lafayette's overall crime rate.

With less money and fewer officers on the street, Craft says relationships have been forged with other local law enforcement agencies, like the UL Police Department and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office. Those relationships, coupled with the success of the department's existing strategy of putting more patrol cars in known high-crime areas gives the chief confidence in his department’s ability to keep on keeping the peace in the year's ahead.

Here’s a breakdown of the 9,346 crimes — a 2.4 percent increase from 2011 — that were reported within the Lafayette city limits in 2012:

Assault — 2,306 (Down 2.5 percent from 2011)

Auto Theft — 241 (Down 13 percent)

Burglary — 1,330 (Up 11 percent)

Homicide — 12 (Up 100 percent)

Rape — 11 (Down 27 percent)

Robbery — 202 (Down 13 percent)

Theft — 5,244 (Up 4 percent)

Juvenile Arrests  — 1,177 (Up 3 percent)

Adult Arrests — 11,228 (Down 12 percent)

Calls for Service — 243,020 (Up 4 percent)




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