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Phoenix police address spike in violent crime numbers

Sgt. Trent Crump says the Phoenix Police Department is taking the rising violent crime rate seriously. (Source: CBS 5 News) Sgt. Trent Crump says the Phoenix Police Department is taking the rising violent crime rate seriously. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Is the city getting more dangerous? Just-released crime statistics show a big increase for violent crimes in Phoenix.

It's no secret Phoenix is a big metropolitan city and growing each year, but if you look at the number of violent crimes so far in 2013 compared to last year, you might do a double-take.

According to numbers from the Phoenix Police Department, violent crime - murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault - is up more than 28 percent in Phoenix this year.
 
But police claim these numbers do not mean Phoenix is any less safe; rather, they tell us they believe the issue is mainly clerical.
 
Starting in January of this year, Chief Daniel Garcia put some coding clerks in place to take a second look at how officers were categorizing crimes. The clerks might be miscategorizing aggravated assaults, driving up the violent crime statistics. Also, domestic violence is now coded as aggravated assault starting this year, thanks to a new state law.

"We have numbers out that are a concern to us and should be a concern to residents as well, and it is an issue we don't take lightly, but it certainly is a number we're working on," said Sgt. Trent Crump with the Phoenix Police Department.

People say the numbers don't surprise them but also won't cause them to change their habits.

"There's sketchy people. You just keep away from them, certain areas, but you just need to know where to avoid and where not to," said Lena Tamrat.

"There's some times where I feel unsafe in certain areas at certain times of night, but the area where I'm living, I feel totally safe," said Julie McDonald.

Police said they will be looking at the numbers to see which crimes were properly categorized and which weren't, and then training their officers and clerks after that. They're also looking at the crime numbers to see where officers need to be assigned.
 
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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