Criminal homicides and forcible rapes jumped significantly in Columbia last year, reaching the highest rates they have ever been in five years.
That's according to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data turned in by the Columbia Police Department today. The UCR is used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track crime throughout the country, including violent crimes, like homicide, rape, robbery and assault, and property crimes.
The numbers from a distance look promising. The general report shows the total crime index went up between 2012 and 2013 but with a five-year low for violent crime. ABC 17 took deeper look at each category measured to find a much different story.
While violent crimes like assaults and robberies decreased last year, homicide and rape incidents increased. For rape, those numbers increased by 57.5 percent from 2012 alone. Property crimes also reached a five-year high.
Councilwoman Laura Nauser sits on the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence. After talking with her about the numbers, she still considers Columbia a safe community.
"We have problems in our community. I'm not going to deny that," Nauser said. "Last year, the event that happened in our downtown that was captured and placed on YouTube really hit home."
Nauser's referring to the shooting in downtown Columbia last year in June. She said that was the turning point in bringing awareness to the crime issue in the city.
Nauser credits the decrease in assaults on that increased presence of police downtown. While the spike in homicide and rapes is alarming, Nauser said it is nothing to fear because the majority of the violent crimes are not acts on random people.
"They have a relationship in some capacity," Nauser said. "Being a victim of a random, violent act is very minimal."
She also mentioned a large portion of the population includes a younger generation—some living away from home for the first time. She realized these individuals may not be aware of the proper ways to protect themselves, which would create more opportunities for more criminal acts.
Instead of looking negatively at the report, Nauser said it should be used as a tool to address certain issues, educate residents and pinpoint troubled areas in the city. She admits crime will always happen, but reducing it takes a community-wide effort.
"It can't just be the police out here addressing the issue," Nauser said. "It has to be a partnership with everyone."
ABC 17 tried to reach out to the Columbia Police Department, which released the information, to give them the opportunity to speak about our analysis and breakdown of the results. The department did not return any calls.
Anyone can see the results of the UCR by visiting the Missouri State Highway Patrol website.