Gun incidents rising again in Franklin

Published 6:02 pm Friday, February 21, 2020

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According to data provided by Franklin Police Chief Steve Patterson, FPD officers responded to 77 reports of shots fired in 2019 — a 35-percent increase over the 57 shots fired incidents reported in 2018.

“We’re talking about legitimately arriving on scene and finding shell casings,” Patterson informed Franklin’s City Council on Feb. 10, explaining that the reported statistics reflect only those incidents in which officers found either physical evidence of the reported gunfire or credible witnesses, as opposed to arriving on-scene and finding nothing.

Weapons violations, which occur when a convicted felon is found to be in possession of a gun or when a person is found to be in possession of drugs and a gun, also rose by 18.5 percent last year, with 64 violations reported in 2019 compared to 54 in 2018. Drug offenses likewise increased by 12.7 percent in 2019 (62 compared to 55 in 2018). Yet, according to Patterson, these increases may reflect more proactive patrol work on the part of FPD officers and more community involvement, rather than an actual spike in crime.

“If the officers are conducting more investigations aimed at gangs, drugs and guns, ultimately they will recover more guns and drugs, which will increase the numbers [in 2020],” the chief said.

While Patterson hopes that the shots fired reports will decrease, he is anticipating the number of reported weapons violations and drug offenses to continue to rise in 2020 as a result of the FPD’s refocusing of its efforts on these crimes.

The city of Franklin had previously seen a spike in gun incidents in 2017, which former FPD spokesman Capt. Tim Whitt had described as “a public safety emergency” when speaking to the paper last year about 2018’s crime statistics. Those statistics indicated that Franklin had seen about 20 fewer gun incidents that year compared to the increase seen in 2017.

Incidents of drunkenness also increased by 37 percent in 2019 (37 last year compared to 27 in 2018). However, data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Uniformed Crime Reporting program indicates an overall 18.5-percent decrease in Part 1 offenses, which the UCR defines as the most serious recurring crimes in the United States. Specifically, in 2019 there were two fewer rapes reported, amounting to a 50-percent decrease from 2018. There were also seven fewer aggravated assaults reported, amounting to a 63.6-percent decrease from 2018.

Burglaries also fell from 39 in 2018 to 24 last year, a 38.4-percent decrease, with larcenies also falling from 300 to 250 (16.6 percent). There was, however, one additional murder in 2019 compared to 2018, and one additional report of arson. Robberies and motor vehicle theft totals remained flat. According to Patterson, the FPD has no total for the number of incidents, including Part 1 offenses, to involve the use of a gun in 2019 or in 2018.