Stats aside, too many murders in 2015

Published 7:28 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

When resident Johnny Perkins addressed the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen meeting recently, he likely was speaking what many are thinking.

“It’s surprising to me that our rate is that much higher than even the towns that we normally consider (having high crime), New Orleans, Jackson all these other places we consider to have a lot of crime, our rate is higher than theirs,” Perkins said.

Perkins was talking about the city’s murder rate for 2015. For the year, 10 people were killed, though it’s possible only eight or nine would be considered murder. The last two victims shot each other, so it’s unclear how those will be classified.

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With a population of 12,515, that would equal 1 per 1,564 residents at best and 1 per 1,251 residents at worst.

Jackson’s crime stats for 2015 have not been released, but city officials said in October of 2015 that the year was shaping up to be an improvement over 2014. In 2014, Jackson recorded 61 homicides. With a population of 172,376, that equals 1 homicide per 2,825 residents.

Statistically speaking, Brookhaven’s per-100,000-residents murder rate is 79 (if we use 10 as the homicide number), compared to 35 for Jackson. If we use eight as the homicide number for Brookhaven, the rate would be 63. But most statistical analysis of murder rates only includes cities with at least 100,000 population. Small populations like Brookhaven’s can skew the stats.  For example, if a town with a population of only 2,000 people recorded two murders, the rate would be 100.

Stats aside, Perkins is correct when he says the number of murders is too high.

“This shows the trend that’s very, very poor I think,” Perkins said. “I speak for the people of Brookhaven, particularly the people in Brookhaven who are survivors of some of these murders. I don’t think anybody spoke up for them, but we’ve had a lot of people — children that don’t have fathers, wives don’t have husbands and husbands don’t have wives and some of the peripheral activity of some of these murders perhaps you don’t even know about it.”

“Murder is bad, bad, bad, and we all know that there are people being killed that shouldn’t be, and someone is responsible,” Perkins said. “And the buck has to stop somewhere, and I don’t know where else to go but to you all, and I would ask y’all to take that under serious consideration: what we can do to get more boots on the ground, more policemen.”

We’re not sure it’s a simple as more “boots on the ground,” but if our police department needs more resources, we encourage city officials to make it a priority.