By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Reducing violent crime and property crimes will be a top priority for area law enforcement in 2012.
In 2011, Tupelo saw three murders, three bank robberies and at least two aggravated assaults, and Lee County had one murder.
Although arrests were made in each case, Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton said 2011 was not a good year when three people were violently killed in the city.
“Anytime you have people to lose their lives violently, we aren’t happy,” said Carleton. “But thanks to good police work and a great working relationship with the community and other agencies, we were able to make arrests in every violent crime we had in 2011.
“Hopefully we don’t have any of that this year, but if we do our goal as always will be to get them solved as fast as possible.”
For Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, 2011 was a busy year. Johnson campaigned and won his third consecutive term as sheriff.
With only one homicide, Johnson said 2011 was a slow year for violent crimes but said property crimes went up significantly. He said 2012 will see him focused on keeping criminals locked up.
“We accomplished a lot in 2011, and we hope to build on those things this year,” said Johnson. “Last year was just a huge year dealing with burglaries. We had more burglaries during 2011 than I can ever remember. And most of those were done by repeat offenders who were released early.
“So this year I want to work with the district attorney on a way to keep criminals behind bars.”
Carleton said 2011 wasn’t all bad news. Tupelo unveiled new patrol cars with a new design. The department also started carrying Tasers in 2011, something that has helped to assure safety for officers and suspects.
“There is a lot of good we want to keep building on in 2012,” he said. “We made a lot of progress in some areas, but we have a very long way to go in other areas. We plan to just work hard this year just like any other.”