By Staff Report
Crime has continued to increase in Martinsville, and it’s attributable to drug activity.
That’s the upshot of the annual report Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady presented to City Council this week, which shows crime up nearly 15% from 2017 to 2018 following a 17% increase from the year before.
That means there were 68 more crimes, up to 532 from 464 in 2017. Cassady reported to the council the majority were drug related.
In 2016 the city recorded 399 crimes, meaning the 2-year growth rate is is almost exactly 33.3%.
The report, which is compiled and presented each year by Cassady, compares statistics under two categories: violent crime and property crime.
There again were two homicides in the city in 2018 (same as in 2017 but up from none in 2016), and sexual assaults have doubled since 2016 (six vs. three, with five in 2017).
Robberies doubled in the past year to eight in 2018 and have quadrupled since 2016. There were 41 cases of aggravated assault in 2018 compared to 31 in 2017 and 23 in 2016.
Among property crimes, there was a slight increase in burglaries (72-70 after 50 in 2016), but a more significant increase in larceny (370-327). Motor vehicle thefts rose from 23 to 25.
The Special Investigations Unit focuses on narcotics, organized crime activities and quality-of-life-related crimes. It handled 155 drug cases in 2018, which was down from 160 drug cases in 2017.
The types of drugs investigated were cocaine, 32%; pills, 23%; marijuana, 15%, heroin, 14%, meth amphetamine, 12%; and various others, 4%.
The Martinsville Police Department, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, helped place more than 800 charges against Dr. Joel Smithers prescribing excessive opioids in the city. Smithers’ business, which had been based in Martinsville, has been shut down, and the doctor has been convicted in federal court and is awaiting sentencing.
Types of calls
The department has 44 sworn and five civilian employees who answered 99,667 calls for service in 2018, compared to 85,168 calls for service the year before.
The top 10 calls for service from citizens in 2018 were for suspicious circumstances (722), 911 open-line hang-ups (667), well-being checks (529), motor vehicle crashes without injury (511), assist motorist (511), suspicious person (446), suspicious vehicle (427), animal issues (344), larceny (325) and calls for advice/information (313).
In 2018, Martinsville Animal Control took in 133 dogs, 125 of which were adopted out or returned to owners. Animal Control took in 90 cats, of which 62 were adopted. Officer E.C. Stone was awarded the Director’s Choice Award by the MHC SPCA, and Animal Control was awarded the No Kill MHC Collaboration Award.
Main personnel are: Chief Eddie Cassady, Maj. Robert Fincher and Capt. Chad Rhoads of the Patrol Division, Lt. Richard Barrow of Special Investigations and Capt. Jim Minter of Police Services/Logistics.
Four lieutenants, four sergeants and 17 officers serve under Rhoads. Barrow is over Narcotics Violations, ATF Taskforce, DEA Diversion Taskforce and Intellligence. Minter is over services which include school resources, the community resources and bike unit, animal control, record, Property and Evidence, accreditation and audits.
Serving under Minter is Lt. Sandy Hines of Criminal Investigations, who oversees major crimes, internet crimes, property crimes, crime scenes and crime analysis.
Amber Fulcher is the administrative assistant serving under the chief.
The full 55-page report can be seen on the department’s Facebook page, and a 15-page version is on the city’s website.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.