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Overall crime, wrecks on decline in South Boston

The Town of South Boston experienced a significant reduction in overall crimes last year, with the exception of simple assault crimes, according to South Boston Police Chief Colonel James W. Binner.

“While our department statistics reflect an increase in simple assault crimes, it additionally echoes the fact that the majority of these cases resulted in the arrest and conviction of the offender,” Binner added.

In other category offenses such as DUI arrests, significant reductions can be seen.

In traffic enforcement, South Boston Police Department issued 2,043 traffic summonses and saw a reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities, the police chief said.

“We firmly believe that our participation in the Virginia Highway Traffic Safety Program made our citizens and visitors aware of traffic safety,” Binner said referring to placing second in their division.

“We also were privileged to receive first place standing statewide for our underage drinking program, Responsibility Increase Student Education (R.I.S.E.),” he said.

This prominent award is presented to the agency with the best practices and traffic safety education and enforcement, he explained.

In reflecting on the past year in law enforcement in the town, Binner said the department faced economic challenges when it came to the recruitment and hiring of qualified police officers.

“This is something that South Boston, like all police agencies, has struggled with in the past year,” he said. “Our agency has launched into the preparedness training and mentoring of all employees in order that they may attain many productive years of service for the citizens of South Boston.”

Binner described the annual police report as “a snapshot of the department’s numerous accomplishments as well as ongoing projects.” 

According to the uniform crime report for 2011, South Boston authorities investigated one murder attempt, four rapes, 14 robberies, 15 felonious assaults, 100 burglaries, 325 larcenies and 11 motor vehicle thefts.

Other crimes reported included one sodomy, three forcible fondlings, 148 simple assaults, five intimidations, one arson, 72 shopliftings, 16 thefts from buildings, five thefts from vending machines, 49 thefts from vehicles, 11 thefts of vehicle parts, 172 other thefts, 11 motor vehicle thefts, 11 forgeries, 12 swindles, 25 credit card frauds, three impersonation frauds, four wire frauds, 19 embezzlements, two stolen property reports, 173 acts of vandalisms, 44 drug violations, two drug equipment charges, two statutory rapes, four porn and obscene material charges and 15 weapon law violations.

Other charges included 20 for disorderly conduct, 45 for DUI, 120 for drunkenness, two for nonviolent family offenses, 16 liquor law violations, 21 for trespassing and 150 other offenses.

Of the 1,284 offenses reported, South Boston Police Department Officers placed 848 charges and had a clearance rate of 66 percent, Binner explained.

In addition the police chief said the department received 21,966 calls for service including request for police services, request for assistance from rescue services, assisting fire calls and officer initiated calls.

South Boston Police Department is a participating member of the Halifax/South Boston Drug and Gang Task Force, a mutual effort of local law enforcement agencies including the Virginia State Police, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and South Boston Police Department.

As part of the task force yearly report, South Boston officers participated in 121 total arrests.

Charges included 176 for felonies and three for misdemeanors. A total of 36 search warrants were served, three vehicles were seized, four weapons were seized, and $12,289 in currency was taken.

Some $4,988,872 (street value) in drugs were seized as a result of task force arrests in 2011 including $240 in Oxycontin, $1,185 in cocaine, $8,675 in crack cocaine, $8,586 in marijuana and $4,857,500 in marijuana plants, $90 in Ectasy, $340 in Schedule II substances and $20 in Schedule IV substances.

The Criminal Investigations Division of the police department is responsible for investingating multiple and major crimes including homicide, rape, robbery, arson, burglary and drug violations.

According to Binner, that division initiated 163 investigative cases making 33 arrests or indictments and cleared 40 cases for a clearance rate of 45 percent.

In all, the criminal investigation division assisted the county sheriff’s office in two homicides, investigated 13 forcible sex offenses, six robberies, nine assaults, assisted Campbell County Sheriff’s Office in an abduction/kidnapping investigation, 37 burglaries, 91 larcenies, three motor vehicle thefts and one arson.

Evidence custodian Sgt. R. E. Redd and Cpl. C.L. Carswell processed 746 pieces of evidence into the evidence room, Binner added.

South Boston Police Department officers also received a total of 3,713 hours of training, 498.5 hours were in specialized traffic enforcement training last year.

Training was conducted through directive review, in-service classes training, platoon training, Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy and other various training locations.

Also the police department received a total of $50,782 in grant funding last year.

Broken down, the grants account for $13,400 which paid for overtime hours officers worked doing traffic enforcement; $12,087 to replace the LiveScan system and purchase a new computer; $16,092 in federal funding to purchase several new computer systems to replace outdated machines; $8,603 in federal funds used to purchase new tasers and additional equipment for the in-car camera system; and $600 in federal funds to be used over two years to help offset costs of purchasing new bulletproof vests for officers.