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Crime on a downward trend in PN

PORT NECHES — Index crimes, or the most serious crimes; have steadily dropped in Port Neches over a five year reporting period.

Those crimes: homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft, totaled 230 in 2018, down from 251 in 2017.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said in his annual report that the city has a fairly low crime rate, the second lowest crime rate among cities in Jefferson and Orange counties.

A closer look at the numbers

Port Neches saw no murders in 2018 and one in 2017. There were zero homicides in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Sexual assaults rose to 13, up from nine in 2017 and five the previous year.

The uptick is due to changes in the definition of the crime. Rape now includes male victims as well we female victims, heterosexual and same sex rape while sexual assault includes a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Robbery cases remained the same — at two, as it was in 2017. There were four cases in 2016 and zero cases in 2015 and 2014.

Lemoine could not pinpoint what is keeping the numbers low, adding he would like to say it’s due to police being more visible and increasing patrols but, that’s not it, he says.

Lemoine tends to look to the state for trends.

“I compare it to the state of Texas averages and the state of Texas averages are trending down,” he said. He wondered aloud, could it be because more people have cameras? Better lighting? People are taking preventative steps, locking doors? He also said he doesn’t believe there are less people wanting to steal — only that they are now deterred.

Aggravated assaults rose to 47 in 2018 from 34 in 2017. There were 41 cases in 2016, 40 in 2015 and 43 in 2014.

He said some of the most serious assaults on record were due to domestic violence, at least in Port Neches. In addition, certain assaults are labeled aggravated due to a specific injury or because the suspect displayed or used a weapon in the commission of the crime.

Theft dropped to 121 in 2018 from 140 in 2017. The number has yo-yoed through the years; 125 in 2016, 157 in 2015 and 167 in 2014.

Motor vehicle theft also dropped to 14 in 2018 from 26 in 2017. There were 16 in 2016, 11 in 2015 and 10 in 2014.

K9 Rico

PNPD has one dual-purpose police K9 named Rico, a Belgian Malinois that is credited with some pretty good police work.

Rico, whose handler is Sgt. Eric Heilman, is trained in narcotics detection, criminal apprehension, tracking, open air and building searches and officer and handler protection. The K9 unit also assists local, state and federal agencies in the area as well as interacting with the community.

Here are just some of his highlights from 2018…

  • Answered 1,266 calls for service
  • 736 traffic contacts
  • Responsible for 93 arrests
  • Conducted 205 narcotic sniffs of vehicles and/or articles
  • Seized five ounces of marijuana
  • Seized over 17 pounds of methamphetamine
  • Seized 59 grams of Ecstasy
  • Seized 2.5 grams of illegally possessed prescription medication
  • Seized 3.6 ounces of synthetic marijuana

Lemoine detailed Rico’s notable events in his report.

“June 2018 brought one of Rico’s most notable narcotic finds to date. He was again requested to assist the Jefferson County S.O. (Sheriff’s Office) Narcotics Unit with a drug interdiction stop. This stop netted Rico and the JSCO a total of 16 pounds of liquid methamphetamine,” he said. “The narcotics were located in a hidden compartment modified inside the vehicle’s gas tank.”

Rico’s list of accomplishments continues with aiding Heilman on several occasions to causing a barricaded suspect to surrender.