(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
In 2000, the City of Sikeston saw 1,214 Part One crimes which include homicide, forcible rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. That number dropped 25 percent in 2001 to 886 and went down 11 percent more in 2002 to 786.
"We are taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach," said Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden when asked about the dramatic decrease.
Captain Joe Sebourn of the Sikeston DPS added there are several reasons for the decrease in criminal activity, but one of the main reasons is the crackdown on drugs.
"Drug activity goes hand-in-hand with other crimes like burglary and larceny," Sebourn said. "When you have people on drugs, they will commit other crimes to support their habits."
Sebourn points to the fewer number of larcenies in Sikeston. In 2002, Sikeston residents reported 583 larcenies down from 721 in 2000. However, the number in 2002 is slightly higher than the 532 larcenies Sikeston saw in 2001.
In every other category considered a Part One crime, Sikeston has had a decrease from year to year.
One of the major forces behind the attack on drugs is the DPS drug unit. The unit, which consists of two detectives assigned full time to drug investigations, targets large scale dealers and through a variety of investigative techniques learns about their operation.
"Our two guys in narcotics do a good job and are constantly busy," Sebourn said. "We've had a lot of people selling drugs that have been arrested or are in jail."
Already this year the narcotics unit has made several arrests.
According to Sebourn another reason for the drop in crime is the Power Squad.
"The Power Squad is three officers who are not assigned to a district but are supplemented to the shifts," Sebourn said. "The three officers are very active, very motivated and know a lot of people. They will work different shifts and different times of day and just do what they do best."
Being at full staff has helped DPS have the manpower to institute these programs. "Being at full staff and not being short handed has really helped," Sebourn said. "It is just a lot of little things. Everyone is pitching in."