The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released its annual Tennessee Crime Report, which showed crime in Colombia was down 10.98% from 2020-21.
The report focuses primarily on Group A offenses, which include violent crimes, vandalism of property, burglary and narcotics offences. According to the report, 4,426 Grade A incidents were reported in 2020, with 3,940 reported in 2021.
Columbia Police Chief Jeremy Alsup said while the nearly 11% reduction rate is something to be proud of, it’s an indicator of the many years of work his department has done to reduce crime in Colombia. For example, data going back to 2007, which reported the highest number of Grade A violations in the city (5,561), shows an overall reduction of 29% in Grade A over the past 15 years, as well as a 41% decrease in overall violent crime.
“It’s a great report, and the numbers don’t lie,” Alsup said. “Here at the Columbia Police Department, we strive to be transparent, reporting everything we do without any manipulation. It’s a way of telling people who think crime in Columbia is rampant, or the worse than it’s ever been, that I can’t give you better proof than what comes from the TBI.”
Alsup added that the legitimacy of the data rests mainly on the fact that the reports are written independently. The report generation process is also much more consistent than simply logging information on an annual basis.
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“TBI collects and keeps those numbers, but it’s not something where, at the end of the year, you say, ‘Hey, that’s all we’ve done.’ It’s reported weekly, every Wednesday starting in January, which gives it even more credibility,” Alsup said. “Usually in August or September the data for the previous year is released. And 10.98% is a huge reduction over a period of one year.”
As for how the crime rate was able to reduce as the city experienced population growth, it’s because of many factors. The reduction in crime is the result of great teamwork between the police department, city staff and maintaining good relations with the community as a whole, according to Alsup.
Additionally, maintaining accountability, weekly analysis of crime data, and finding a way for officers to improve service for citizens are factors.
“It all comes down to using all the tools at your disposal to get results, using whatever you have to, which sometimes means thinking outside the box,” Alsup said.
“The most successful people in law enforcement are those who are willing to change with the times. Our number one goal at the Columbia Police Department is for the people who live, work and play here, visit here, or maybe even just drive through here, experience the excellence that comes out of this police department.”