Study says West Side crime has shifted

A map of Charleston's West Side shows the change in drug crimes various areas from 2012 to 2016. (Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety)

A recent report on Charleston’s West Side indicates the areas where crime occurs from 2012 to 2016 may have shifted from the flatlands to the hills in the neighborhood.

The report was completed by the Office of Research and Strategic Planning from the West Virginia, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the Division of Justice and Community Services. The organizations used crime reports, surveys and demographic information.

According to the report, the West Side accounted for more than 38 percent of all arrests in 2011 in Charleston. Geographical analysis showed a specific area on the West Side – 35 city blocks ranging from Park Avenue in the east and Florida Street in the west and from First Avenue in the south to Washington Street West in the north – that that had a high number of violent and property crimes, the report said.

Overall key findings from the report indicate between 2012 and 2016 the target area mentioned above experienced minimal increases in violent, drug and property crimes while the hills in the West Side experienced a substantial increase in crimes. This indicates that intervention from the targeted area may have displaced crime to other areas on the West Side, the report said. Drug crime increased by 14 to 25 individual incidents in the two hill areas identified in the map below. At the same time, drug incidents in the targeted area for intervention (area 7 in the map below) increased by one to seven incidents.

For the same targeted area, there was an increase in violent crime by two to five incidents between 2012 and 2016. The hills had an increase of 16 to 28 (area 6 in the map) and 29 to 41 (area 5) incidents. For property crime, targeted area 7 saw an increase of 33 to 67 incidents and areas 5 and 6 each had an increase of 68 to 113 incidents.

Of those surveyed, 41 percent of residents in the West Side and 43 percent in other neighborhoods believed increasing police presence was the most important thing needed to improve Charleston’s public safety.

West Side residents also were more likely to have reported hearing about a crime reduction initiative in their neighborhood compared to those in other neighborhoods.

View the full report below.

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