Crime is down 26 percent overall in Five Points since police began increasing their presence there, but even more cops will be on the streets when fans hit the area after USC home football games, the city’s police chief said Thursday.
Chief Randy Scott told City Council’s Public Safety Committee that he sent 21 officers to the popular restaurant and bar district for the Gamecock’s home season opener last weekend. That is about triple the seven to eight officers that routinely patrol Five Points on weekend nights. He plans to add even more officers for the Oct. 6 clash between USC and the University of Georgia.
Columbia Police Department records that compared the same 7 1/2-month period this year with last year show that 728 crimes were reported, down 256 crimes or 26 percent, from last year’s 984.
The analysis is of the business district between Jan. 1 and Sept. 12 in 2011 and 2012, Scott said. That time frame includes when the city launched its “hospitality police” team that enforces criminal laws and city codes in Columbia’s entertainment districts.
However, violent crimes that are reported to the FBI are up 22 percent in Five Points, the figures show. Though the percentage is high, Scott said the actual number of offenses is low: up by seven, from 32 last year to 39 this year. Those include a sexual assault, three aggravated assaults and three robberies.
Property crime is down 5.8 percent, from 172 last year to 162 this year, according to the department’s statistics.
The Five Points crackdown continues to push some problems into adjoining neighborhoods.
“The kids seem to get extremely drunk and they have no respect,” Andrew Marion, president of the Wales Garden Neighborhood Association, said recently of vandalism, disorderly conduct and other violations. “It also makes them easy victims of crime.”
Columbia police have pledged to raise their presence in neighborhoods that surround Five Points.