durantdemocrat.com

Durant police chief disputes city’s crime rate in report

By Zach Maxwell

November 18, 2013

Durant Police Chief Durward Cook disputes a report by Oklahomawatch.org which lists Durant as the third most violent city in the state.


A report by the website using 2011 data lists Durant as having a violent crime rate of just under 1,000 per 100,000 residents.


Durant’s 2012 population was 16,425, meaning the crime data for the city was multiplied by a factor of eight to reach the alarming crime rate listed in the report.


That also may have something to with Ardmore topping the list while Tulsa is second and Oklahoma City fifth.


“Several smaller and medium-sized cities also led the state in increases in violent crime rates,” states an online article by Shaun Hittle of Oklahomawatch.org. “Durant, Moore and Ardmore experienced double-digit average annual violent crime rate increases between 2007 and 2011.”


Chief Cook stated this also may have more to do with a new crime reporting system implemented by Durant and other smaller cities in recent years. More incidents are automatically reported than in years past, and increased awareness and enforcement of issues such as domestic violence and child abuse also are affecting those numbers.


Overall, Cook says the city is much safer than this report would indicate. Here is a statement he provided to the Durant Daily Democrat about the report in September.


“I do not know what criteria were used to report that Durant’s crime rate was number 3 in Oklahoma. I am not able to reproduce or duplicate that number using the 2011 UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) statistics.


“Those numbers are always two years old and are often not accurate for a number of reasons. I hesitate to rely on statistics that I know are flawed to gauge our crime rate and certainly not to create fear in our community where it should not exist.


“I feel that Durant is a safe place to live. It is a place where we can go for a walk in the evening. Our families and children can interact in our community without fear.


“As with anything there is always room for improvement. If we want to continue to improve our quality of life in Durant, then I think as citizens we should expect from ourselves the same things we expect of our police officers.


“I’m not asking people to take enforcement action. But, we should get to know our neighbors. Watch their house when they are away. We should be willing to report suspicious activity. Care for one another and pray for them when they are sick, injured or having a hard time.


“Check on them when you haven’t seen or heard from them in awhile. Help your neighbor when he needs it and build strong neighborhood bonds. Can you imagine the impact we could have on the incidence of crime if everyone took care of each other in this way?


“This is what programs like ‘Neighborhood Watch’ and ‘National Night Out’ are designed to do. They bring neighbors together and get back to the values that helped protect us in years past.


“As Durant grows we may be tempted to develop the attitude of ‘that’s not my problem’ or overlook things that we don’t have time for. The challenge that I see for law enforcement in the future will be to encourage citizens to take an active role in the safety of our own communities.


“Our officers solve most of their cases because someone is willing to come forward and share what they know.”


Cook said “new” crime statistic information for Durant and other Oklahoma municipalities would be made available this month by OSBI and the FBI, covering calendar year 2012.