Reported crime in Pine Bluff dropped more than 13 percent in April compared to reported crime in 2017, according to the latest statistics provided by the Pine Bluff Police Department.


There were 359 reported crimes in April compared to 414 in April 2017 or 13.29 percent less.


Through the first four months of 2018, 1,324 crimes have been reported to police. That number is 3,372 less than the 4,696 crimes reported for the first four months of 2017, which translates to an almost 72 percent decline.


During a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council’s Public Safety Committee Wednesday, Assistant Chief of Police Ricky Whitmore said reported crimes against persons were down in every category in April with the exception of rapes and attempted rapes, which increased by one from four a year ago to five last month.


There were eight reported robberies last month compared to 14 in April 2017. Aggravated assaults dropped from 51 to 42, and simple assaults from 163 to 136. There was one murder in April, bringing the total for the year to four. Through the first four months of 2017, there had been 10 murders reported.


In terms of crimes against property, Whitmore said there was a slight uptick in commercial burglaries, which increased from two in April 2017 to five last month, and in motor vehicle thefts, which went from 23 to 26. Residential burglaries dropped from 40 to 38, and reported thefts dropped from 115 to 98.


Whitmore, who was filling in for Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant, who was out of town, said that because of the recent rash of drive-by shootings at houses and vehicles, the department will be increasing the number of officers assigned to the Violent Crime Task Force, whose primary duty has been to try and take guns off the streets.


Deputy Chief Skip Elliott, who was with Whitmore, said while the task force will still be trying to get guns, they are also going to target specific people.


“We know several of the players so we’re going to put a little toughness in their lives,” Whitmore said, adding that vice and narcotics detectives will also be involved in the effort.


On another matter, nine new police officers who went to work Monday were introduced. The new officers will spend the next four weeks in a department rookie school before being sent to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy at Camden.