Locust Police Dept. lauds city’s safety in latest crime report

ALBEMARLE — The city of Locust has seen major growth due to its status as a bedroom community of Charlotte, but according to a 2021 crime report, it has avoided having a rise in crime accompany the rise in population.  

On Jan. 14, the Locust Police Department provided its annual statistics and department clearance report for the past year, which are both available to view on the department’s website.  

Within the reports, Locust Police Chief Jeff Shew provided his written analysis on the positive data and results for the previous year, concluding that there was less overall criminal activity in Locust in 2021 than in 2020. 

“Numbers continued to show an overall low daily incidence of larceny, fraud, and assault activity and near zero incidents of violent crime year to year,” Shew said. “The final numbers do indicate that in 2021 despite a rapidly growing city, Locust remained a very safe city with an overall low volume of crime and criminal activities.” 

Locust has shown a consistent population growth over the past decade, with the 2020 census reporting a total of 4,537 citizens — a 35% increase from the 2010 census total of 2,930 citizens.  

In a comparison to 2020, the city reported an 8.3% decrease in reported offenses (from 2,148 to 1,969) as well as a 5.9% decrease in recorded incident reports (from 1,904 to 1,790); the 320 arrest charges in 2021 were a 14.2% decrease from the 373 arrests in 2020. The report also showed that alcohol- and drug-related offenses showed a significant decrease (31.7%) for the year, going from 161 in 2020 to 110 in 2021. 

Shew continued in his analysis: “There was an overall decrease in property crime offenses for the year for the first time in seven years and the overall reported number was the lowest recorded since 2017. Overall, there was a sizable 25.3% decrease in call types related to theft or fraud. Breaking this down further, there was a 25.8% decrease in business related larcenies and fraud related incidents decreased by 16.4%.” 

While the majority of the city’s statistics showed a decrease in charges compared to 2020, that wasn’t the case for every category — citation charges issued increased by 40.6% in 2021 (from 910 to 1,279), including a 59.4% increase in speeding charges issued. Additionally, 202 traffic crashes were reported (an increase of 3.1%), a total that was still less than the number reported in 2016 (220), 2017 (212) and 2018 (214). 

In total, 5,771 calls were either dispatched to, initiated by, or attended in 2021. 

“The 2021 statistics, as well as a comparison to past years, show that although crime is low, the tremendous growth that has occurred and is ongoing in Locust has resulted in a continuously elevated call volume for our agency that was down from the number in 2020 but significantly greater than five years ago in 2017,” Shew said in his report.