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Hopkins County Clearance Rate Remains High, Even With Increases In 5 of 9 Major Offense Categories

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The Hopkins County clearance rate for all offenses recorded Jan. 1-June 30, 2020 by sheriff’s officers was 94.87 percent, which includes the 9 major offense reporting categories, crimes against children, drug and other offenses.

Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office typically provides data regarding the nine major crime reporting categories, as do most departments. However, this year, in addition to the traditional statistics, information was also provided about other offense categories to provide a more complete picture of crime reported to and cases worked by HCSO.

9 Major Reporting Categories

The HCSO clearance rate for the nine major offense reporting categories was 88.23 percent during the first 6 months of 2020, despite an overall increase in the nine major offense reporting categories. Offenses increased in 5 categories, declined in 1 category and was unchanged in three offense categories. the overall total was still the third lowest in 20 years.

Twenty-two more offenses were reported in the 9 traditional reporting categories during the first 6 months of 2020 than the 20-year record low of 47 offenses reported Jan. 1-June 30, 2019. That’s just three more offenses reported from Jan. 1-June 30, 2020, than the 66 offenses reported for the same period in 2018.

The 69 cases reported in the first half of 2020 is still less than a third of the record high of 214 offenses reported during the first six months of 2001, 6-months in which only 132 cases were cleared (61.58 percent). In only one other year were there more than 200 offenses in the 9 categories, 204 in 2004, a year in which only 116 cases (56.86 percent) were cleared. The offense total in the 9 major crime reporting categories has only risen over 100 twice since 2010: 105 offenses in 2011 and 102 offenses in 2015.

Overall, 62 of the 69 offenses recorded by HCSO were cleared. That’s the first time in five years the Jan.1-June 30 clearance rate has been less than 90 percent. The clearance rate has remained above 80 percent since 2012, a year in which 98 cases were reported and 81 cases were cleared.

“When it looks like offenses are down and clearance rates are up, it’s because officers are working twice as hard to keep the numbers down,” Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum said.

Tatum and HCSO Chief Deputy Corley Weatherford attributed the low crime rate in the 9 major reporting categories and high clearance rates to the deputies’ commitment and diligence to “proactive policing” to keep the county and its citizens protected. The deputies’ presence while patrolling in all areas of the county, stopping people when they see infractions, making contact with individuals and residents, serves as a deterrent for some criminal activity.

Tatum commended the proactive work of the deputies as well as the other county employees and citizens. Even precinct workers and mail carriers are alert, calling in if they drive up on or see something potentially suspicious. Jail staff remain alert.

Citizens also play a role. They assist HCSO by keeping an eye out for their neighbors, reporting activity that appears suspicious, and getting license plate numbers and other vehicle descriptions when a vehicle is involved, sheriff noted.

“We want them to continue to do that. It takes everybody working together,” Tatum said. “There are not enough of us to do it by ourselves. The citizens in the community do their part and help out. Everybody helps out.”

Proactive policing has made a huge difference in over the last 10 years in reducing the number of burglaries and thefts reported in Hopkins County, according to the HCSO officials,

Rates based on information provided by HCSO regarding the 9 major offense categories

Burglaries have continued to drop significantly over the last 20 years, to the point the 2020 total is only about 1/10th the total reported during the first 6 months of 2001. HCSO reported 68 burglaries in 2001, almost as many burglaries as the total for all 9 categories in 2020.. The 6-month burglary total has remained below 50 since 2003. During the first half of each year since 2007, there have been less than 40 burglaries. For 5 years, there have been less than 20 burglary cases recorded by HCSO during the first half of the year. A new Jan. 1-June 30 record low of 7 burglary cases was set in 2020, down two from the previous record low set in 2019. Of the 7 cases 6 were cleared, for an overall burglary clearance rate of 85.71 during the first half of 2020.

From Jan. 1 to June 30 of 2020, HCSO made reports for 17 thefts, 12 of which were cleared (70.58 percent). While that’s nearly twice the record low of 9 theft or larceny cases reported by HCSO during the first half 2019, the 17 thefts reported in 2020 is still 75 percent less than the 68 reported in 2001 and the 20-year record high of 70 thefts reported in 2004.

Two murders were reported and two cleared during the first half of 2020, the same as in 2018. This is another category that typically has few if any offenses recorded. Only during the first half of 2004, 2009 and 2011 were any murders recorded, and only one in each.

Three sexual assaults were reported during the first half of 2020, but one attempted sexual assault report was determined to be unfounded, reducing the total two. That’s up from 2019, when only one sexual assault was reported to sheriff’s officers. This is another category that typically has few, if any cases. The most sexual assaults reported during the first half of the year was 6 in 2005, and repeated in 2008, 2011 and 2018. There were 3 sexual assaults reported in 2009; two each in 2003, 2013, and 2017; and one sexual assault report made in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2019. These cases do not include offenses in which the alleged victim is a child. The 2020 clearance rate for this category, as well as all categories involving violent crimes against people, was 100 percent.

There were 20 simple assaults reported during the first half of 2020, the same as in 2015 and five more than in 2019. That’s still only about one-third of the record high of 58 simple assault offenses recorded in 2001. This category didn’t drop below 50 until 2005, but has remained below 30 since 2011.

Nine aggravated assaults were reported during the first half of 2020, the same as in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019. The least number of aggravated assaults was one in 2010. In only two of the last 20 years have more than 20 aggravated assaults been reported during the first half of the year: 27 in 2004 and the record high of 30 in 2008.

There were no robberies and no arson cases in 2020. Rarely are any offenses recorded in either category. In only five of the last 20 years have any arson cases been reported during the first 6 months of the year: three in 2003; two each in 2012, 2015 and 2018; and one arson case in 2016. Only six times since 2001 have any robberies been reported for Hopkins County during the half of the year, and none in the last 6 years: two robberies in 2011 and one robbery each in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2014.

HCSO made 12 unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (vehicle theft) offense reports, and cleared 10 UUMV cases in 2020, for an overall clearance rate of 83.33 percent. That’s 8 more UUMV cases recorded in 2020 than the first half of 2019, when the 20-year low was set, but still 4 less than the record high of 16 UUMV cases reported in 2008.

The unauthorized use of motor vehicle category includes all stolen vehicle reports made by deputies, but does not necessarily mean the auto was stolen from Hopkins County. An UUMV report would also be made for vehicles stolen from another county that were recovered in Hopkins County during a traffic stop or other interaction with the driver. For instance, a Hunt County investigator working near the Hunt-Hopkins County line on more than one occasion has received confirmation from a license plate reader that a vehicle traveling west on I-30 was stolen for another county. He radioed officials in Hopkins County, where the vehicle is stopped and recovered, and an arrest is made. An UUMV report would be made in Hopkins County, where an unauthorized person was caught in the stolen vehicle.

Overall Offenses

While those 9 offense categories are the most reported offenses, they are by no means a complete picture of HCSO’s total case load. In fact, they only account for about 30 percent of the overall offense reports taken by HCSO officers during the first half of 2020.

“It’s important to let people know what’s going on in Hopkins County,” Tatum said. “These categories don’t include child pornography or other crimes against children or drug cases.”

In an effort to provide a more complete report, HCSO is providing information about other reportable offenses from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020, with the exception of DWI, which are recorded differently.

Overall, HCSO made 234 case reports and cleared 222 of those cases from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020, for an overall clearance rate of 94.87 percent for Hopkins County. (This includes only offenses reported to HCSO, but does not include offenses for cities that have their own police department and are required annually to report case information to the state.)

Hopkins County Overall Crime Statistics, Jan. 1-June 30, 2020

Of the 234 offenses recorded by HCSO officers, 23 offenses (almost 10 percent) were for crimes against children: five indecency with a child cases, five sexual assault of a child cases, two sexual performance by a child cases, six possession or promotion of child pornography cases, four abandoning or endangering a child-criminal negligence cases and one online solicitation of a minor case. Of those cases, one indecency case was determined to be unfounded. The clearance rate for this category was 100 percent.

Tatum said some of these cases have increased since 2014 due mostly to the specialized training Weatherford received and specialized lab which helps detect certain online offenses as well as with the forensic investigation of devices when certain crimes such as online pornography or solicitation offenses are alleged.

Hopkins County also made 88 controlled substance, marijuana, drug and other related offense reports during the first 6 months of 2020. That’s nearly 38 percent of all offense reports made from Jan. 1-June 30, 2020, according to the HCSO data. There were 79 possession of a controlled substance cases, three manufacture or delivery of controlled substance cases, four possession of marijuana cases, two possession of dangerous drug cases and four tampering with evidence cases.

Five burglary of a motor vehicle offenses were reported, but only two of those cases were cleared. All four of the evading arrest or detention cases reported during the first half of 2020 were cleared.

Categories with three offense reports each included criminal mischief, failure to register as a sex offender or failure to comply with terms of sex offender registration, fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, terroristic threat and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. All of these cases, except for one criminal mischief case, were cleared.

Offense categories in which HCSO officers made 1-2 case reports each included criminal instrument, criminal trespass, deadly conduct, drug test falsification/classification, false report, forgery, harassment, interference with duties, obstruction/retaliation, repeated violation, resisting arrest and unlawful carrying of a weapon

The Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office is located at 298 Rosemont St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75482. Non-emergency calls can be made to (903) 438-4040.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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