Boone County Sheriff: Violent crime numbers up

Sheriff: Boone County is "the most dangerous county in the state of Missouri"

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey says violent gun crime numbers are up this year in Columbia.

That comment comes after a press conference last Friday where City Manager Mike Matthes said crime is down, despite nine shootings within city limits since June 15.

ABC 17 News pulled crime statistics in Columbia for the last five years and the numbers support Carey's claims.

The city does not have a specific category for violent gun crime, so an incident can be classified under aggravated assault or in some cases, assault with a firearm.

However, the city does categorize violent crime, including murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. In all of those categories, the numbers are up.

In 2008, Columbia police reported 176 incidents between January and June. Just five years later, that number has risen to 274.

Sheriff Carey says gun violence alone is significantly higher than last year.

"A reliable source through the [Bureau of] Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said we are, per capita, the most dangerous county in the state of Missouri," said Sheriff Carey.

ABC 17 News pull stats of the first six months of 2013 and the previous four years. They show a consistent growth overall since 2008.

Specifically, Columbia has had four criminal homicides so far in 2013, compared to three for the same time last year. The city's fifth homicide happened in July, out of the counting period.

Sheriff Carey believes the higher crime numbers could be fixed if law enforcement works together to enforce stricter policing policies.

"I've been talking about all agencies in this community... They need to become proactive law enforcement agencies, where we're serving search warrants, we're doing car stop," said Carey. "The criminals seems to be running amuck."

Just last week, Matthes addressed criticism from Carey that the city wasn't admitting to its crime problem.

However, Carey says he believes policy changes are needed to get crime under control.

"My opinion is, the solution is proactive law enforcement," he said. "You've got to get into the business of the criminal. You've got to let them know you're going to be making car stops, that they can't transport their drugs back and forth without a fear of being stopped."

The differences in opinion raise questions about the state of public safety. Dale Roberts with the Columbia Police Officers' Association says Sheriff's deputies and officers work together well.

"They communicate among themselves and in that regard, the citizens are safe," Roberts said. "The officers work together and there's a lot of communication and cooperation between the departments at the street level."

But Sheriff Carey said he doesn't have much communication with police Chief Ken Burton.

"My relationship with the chief is a little more distant," he said. "I don't really know him personally or professionally. I've never said anything negative about the man, I just don't talk to him much. We don't communicate a lot, but the departments and my relationship with CPD is good."

Carey says if the Columbia Police Department changed some of their policies, crime would drop.

"If we can get them to buy into this proactive philosophy, I think we'll be able to catch up with this problem in a short period of time and get it under control," he said.

ABC 17 reached out to Matthes and Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton. Matthes never returned phone calls and Burton is out of town.

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