EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSKanawha County's Homicide Rate Declines
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 13, 2013 11:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sep. 13, 2013 6:34 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Homicide rates in Kanawha County are on a drastic decline with a staggering 75% drop in the last five years, according to the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office.
"The biggest problem we've had in this state, and probably most states, is that people can literally get away with murder," says Jerry Waters.
Waters isn't the first to say those words, and he likely won't be the last, but it's an opinion Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants wants to change.
"At the end of the day, if you're incarcerating those dangerous people, the crime rate is going to decrease," said Plants.
According to West Virginia Vital Records, there has been a 75% drop in homicides in the last five years in Kanawha County.
"It is surprising. Everybody always talks about how that's all you hear on the news and to hear that it's going down is really good," says Kayla Anderson.
In 2009 the county dealt with 22 homicide cases and up until last year the numbers stayed pretty much the same. But this year has been one of the lowest in recent memories. Only six homicides have been reported. Two of those were murder-suicides, and only one, so far, has remained unsolved.
"No one's surprised now when someone makes the news, and they've murdered someone, to find out that they've got a record that goes back years of malicious woundings, and assaults, and burglaries and all these things," Waters said.
"Ten percent of the citizens commit 90% of the crimes in Kanawha County and if you focus in on the worst of the worst of those 10%, you're going to decrease your murder rate, and you're going to decrease your crime rate and that's what we've done over the last five years," Plants said.
It's also important to distinguish the difference between a homicide and an actual murder case. Homicides are described as any death at the hands of another, whether that be from self-defense or perhaps even a child neglect resulting in death. The prosecutor's office says it's working on pulling the death certificates from all of the cases since 2009 to see how many of those have been full blown murder cases.
Kanawha County has seen a significant drop in the number of homicides this year, the county prosecutor’s office said.
West Virginia Vital Records indicate there have only been six reported homicides so far in the county this year, according to a news release from the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office. Officials attribute this decline to the hard work of law enforcement and the aggressive prosecution of violent offenders.
The number of homicides in Kanawha County is down from 22 in 2009, the year Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants took office. The prosecutor’s office said Plants has made it a priority to get violent offenders off the streets.
"There has been a 75 percent drop in homicides since I was elected and that's something our office and the county's law enforcement is very proud of," Plants said in the release. "Our office has worked diligently with law enforcement to prosecute violent offenders to the fullest extent of the law."
Statistics show the county had 19 homicides in 2012; 18 in 2011; 23 in 2010 and 22 in 2009.
Kanawha County Sheriff John Rutherford said defendants are convicted by the hard work of law enforcement and prosecutors.
“The level of cooperation between our prosecutor's office and law enforcement is the best it has ever been," Rutherford said.
Charleston Police Department's Chief of Detectives Steve Cooper said the community is inevitably safer “once criminals who have proven to be violent are incarcerated."
Plants said nothing is more important than keeping the people of the county safe.
“I believe it's clear that the hard work of our office and the county's law enforcement has resulted in a safer Kanawha County," Plants said.
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