In a 2018 crime report analyzed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state's overall murder rate increased while violent and property crimes decreased from 2017.
With the report, Sumter's law enforcement agencies are concerned with …
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With the report, Sumter's law enforcement agencies are concerned with what 2019's statistics will show as the summer and early fall have already seen an increase in homicides.
According to the report, violent crime in South Carolina decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018. Violent crime is considered to be murder, sexual battery, robbery and aggravated assault and involves the element of personal confrontation between the victim and offender.
Violent crime in the state has significantly decreased since the '90s, but it has been almost constant since 2013.
"I am pleased to see a steady decline in the number of property crimes and that the overall violent crime rate dropped," SLED Chief Mark Keel said. "While these statistics are encouraging, I am deeply troubled by the increasing number of murders, domestic violence incidents and the number of law enforcement officers assaulted in our state."
When only looking at murder, that rate in South Carolina increased by 3.5% from 2017 to 2018, with a firearm being the most common weapon used, according to the report.
Murder is the willful killing of one person by another and is classified based on a police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury or another judicial body.
According to the report, Sumter County had 802 violent crime incidents and seven murders reported in 2018. The Sumter County Coroner's Office has said previously there were eight homicides in 2018.
With recent shootings, gang activity and other violent crimes that have occurred in Sumter, local law enforcement agencies have voiced concern the 2019 crime report may be higher than this recent report. Both the Sumter Police Department and Sumter County Sheriff's Office are taking measures to keep the rate from increasing more this year.
Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said there have been 14 homicides in Sumter so far this year; already doubling the amount of homicides that occurred in Sumter in 2018.
"We have mechanisms and strategies in place to address crime within the City of Sumter," Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said.
He said the police department is continuing to monitor for developing trends. He said those strategies can be adjusted as deemed necessary.
"I would say at least 75% of our homicides have been drug- or gang-related in 2019," Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. "We're going into the enforcement part of it as well as the education part of it."
Dennis said the sheriff's office has already started the process of increasing enforcement and educating the public and hopes to see positive results.
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