New FBI crime statistics show a big surge in violent crimes reported in Huntsville in 2012.
Police officials said the numbers don't tell the whole story, that there are several factors that have led to an increase in reported violent crimes from 2011 to 2012, and a bigger increase when comparing 2010 to 2012.
The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting statistics show about a 12 percent increase in violent crimes reported from 2011 to 2012, with 178 more in all.
Huntsville Police Deputy Chief Sherry Jackson said a big part of that is because more people in the Hispanic community reported crimes than in 2011 when they were more fearful of being deported because of the state's immigration legislation that passed that year. Jackson said the department has worked for years to establish trust in the Latino community.
"Since we've made the effort, they are now quicker to call us, quicker to report their crimes, and that's going to increase our numbers. And that's what we want. We're here to assist individuals no matter who they are, where they are or what they are," Jackson said.
The difference between 2010 and 2012 was an increase of more than 40 percent more violent crimes reported in 2012.
Jackson said that was mostly the result of classifying certain crimes differently. Starting in 2011, HPD began classifying crimes like physical harassment, menacing, and stalking as violent crimes for the first time.
"We have a lot more crimes that are classified as violent in nature than we used to. Used to, if you were shoved in an argument, we didn't consider that a violent crime. We do now, so that's going to increase our numbers," Jackson said.
The number of reported property crimes, which includes larceny, vehicle theft, burglary and arson, went down between 2011 and 2012 by about five percent.