Reported violent and property crimes were down 14 percent in 2018 in Branson, according to the Uniform Crime Report.
Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews said the numbers represent each reported crime Branson police receive in a given year. For 2018, according to the report, 1,313 crimes were listed in the UCR Part I report, which includes violent crimes and property crimes. In 2017, there were 1,526 violent and property crimes reported.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation manages all this, and we route our numbers through the state of Missouri,” Matthews said. “All of our numbers are collected per their standards and all of these represent reported crime in the city of Branson.”
Matthews attributed the reduced numbers to the department’s commitment to community policing and working with neighborhoods.
“Toward the end of last year, we added another patrol sector. We were at three. Now we have four, and we’ve assigned our sergeants to a patrol sector,” Matthews said.
“We’re asking them to track crime and address neighborhood problems so we become more accustomed to dealing with the same area of town. With that, we’re asking our officers to work similar areas of town so they get accustomed to working the same problems over and over, address them, and work for sustainable solutions.”
Crimes listed in the report include homicide, manslaughter, rape, attempted rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, stealing, vehicle theft and arson.
According to Matthews, the report does not include any narcotics offenses. Those numbers are still being tallied, he said.
“Our Part Two narcotics offenses have held steady, pretty flat, over the last three years,” Matthews said.
The largest increase in the report came in the number of felony assaults in Branson. In 2018, according to the report, there were 65 reported felony assaults up from 54 in 2017. Matthews said that increase is due in part to a change in categorizing felony assault.
“Some of the behaviors we report now were not included in assaults of 2017,” Matthews said. “In 2017 a person basically had to seek medical care in order to be the felony assault category. Now, that is not true, it’s signs (of assault) we’re looking for.”
According to the report, the other increases in crime in 2018 include vehicle thefts, 96, up from 94 in 2017, and arson, four, up from three in 2017.
Stealing made up a majority of the crimes reported in Branson in 2018, with the report listing 999 offenses.
“Those are offenses at our retailers, shoplift is another word for it, shoplifts from one of our retailers,” Matthews said. “Or steals something from the front porch or around the house, not inside the house, because that’s captured in burglary, just the stealing of that kind of property.
“Robbery isn’t included in that, it’s a violent act where someone is assaulted and something is stolen, or there’s a gun presented. Stealing is just taking the property. You don’t have to have someone there.”
Given the statistics are made up of reported crimes, Matthews said anyone who is a victim of a crime should feel confident in calling the police department for help.
“We encourage all victims of a crime to report it,” Matthews said. “It doesn’t matter how minor a crime appears to be, we still need to know about it.”
In 2019, Matthews said the department is looking to hire a crime analyst who will help the department track crime data and trends and lead to more “intelligence-led policing.”
“So we understand crime trends better and that we can position our resources based on what the data is telling us,” Matthews said.
Matthews also said the police department wants to continue developing strong connections in the community with events like National Night Out and the development of community watch programs.
“We have some neighborhoods that had community watch years ago and we’re trying to rekindle some of those relationships and develop others in other neighborhoods,” Matthews said. “A community that’s connected together and with the police department, sharing information across those lines, helps us reduce crime.”