While Still Low, Edmond’s Violent Crime is on the Rise
For the fourth straight year, Oklahoma’s violent crime rate has increased, according to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer.
Oklahoma’s violent crime rate hasn’t been lower than the national average in 18 years. In 2017, Oklahoma’s violent crime rate was 455.2 incidents per 100,000 people, 62.2 points higher than the national average.
Out of the categories the FBI’s database keeps track of, which include aggravated assault, robbery, rape and homicide – only one rate was lower than the national average.
While Oklahoma has one of the higher violent crime rates in the country, Edmond has a lower crime rate and is listed as one of the safest cities in the state. Though it’s listed as one of the safest cities in the state, based on FBI crime statistics, Edmond has seen its amount of violent crime steadily increase since 2011. In 2011, there were 58 violent crimes reported by the Edmond Police Department, compared to last year’s total of 154.
This could be due to Edmond’s growing population, which from 2011 to 2018, grew by 10,000. Jeffrey Harp, UCO’s chief of police, agreed that the growing population is a factor in the growing crime rate.
“Part of it has to be [that] it’s more of an affluent community,” Harp said. “That doesn’t mean that rich folks don’t commit crimes, but I think that’s one piece of it.”
Comparing Edmond with Lawton, a city with a similar population, the difference between violent crime rates is significant. While the Edmond Police Department reported just over 150 violent crimes, the Lawton Police Department reported 831 incidences.
The average median income in an Edmond household is $74,632 compared to Lawton’s $43,674, according to Data USA.
Another factor Harp referred to is the sense of community within Edmond.
“There’s a sense of neighborhood here,” Harp said. “There’s a sense of community that helps bond things together.”
Harp said he feels that the community feel is part of what makes UCO a safe university. Last year, the UCO Police Department reported four violent crimes.
“I think that universities [have a sense of community] on a larger scale,” Harp said. “I think universities in general are probably at a lower crime rate than the towns that are around them.”
Harp said he feels as though there’s a “passive surveillance” that the UCO community helps establish. He said it makes it easy for things to stand out because of this sense of community.
“We’re all kind of engaged in the same purpose,” Harp said.
While UCO and Edmond in general remain one of the safest parts in the state, Oklahoma as a whole remains high in violent crime.
Males were the primary offender of violent crimes in Oklahoma, making up about 81 percent. Aggravated assault had the highest rate of occurrence in Oklahoma, happening 319.3 times per 100,00 people, a full 70 points above the national average.
Oklahoma hasn’t been below the national average in aggravated assault since the FBI started recording the data in 1995.
Most of these incidents happened while the victim was at home and the reported relationship to the offender was unknown the majority of the time.