Police Chief: Smyrna's Criminal Activity 'Stable' Over 20 Years
Smyrna Police Chief Stan Hook spoke to the Smyrna Golden K Kiwanis Tuesday.
Despite a growing population, Smyrna Police Chief Stan Hook says the amount of criminal activity has not changed much in the city during his 22-year tenure.
“Our criminal activity here is kind of stable,” he said. “When I came here we had about 30,000 people and now we have 52,000. The number of crimes has pretty well remained the same.”
Hook spoke to the Smyrna Golden K Kiwanis Tuesday at the Aline Wolfe Adult Recreation Center. Ron Fennel, Smyrna’s Ward 7 Council representative, was originally scheduled to speak, but had to cancel due to a conflict.
Hook added that he’s noticed a decrease in certain crimes since the city purchased Hickory Lake apartments and Smyrna Commons, specifically gang-related crimes.
“It’s not nearly as bad as it was,” he said. “We’re not having any drive-by shootings. I think when they busted up the apartment complexes they did a lot to bust up the gang activity. We still have a little bit around, but not anywhere near what it was five years ago.”
Hook explained that he thinks crime is more prevalent in areas with higher concentrations of people like apartment complexes. Before the city purchased Hickory Lakes and relocated the residents, he said two and three police officers were sometimes required each shift to respond to calls at the complex.
One club member asked Hook about a rash of car break-ins that took place in Bennett Woods in December and January. Smyrna-Vinings Patch reported in February that Smyrna police believed juveniles were responsible for these break-ins. Hook said these types of crimes are common in Smyrna because some people don’t lock their car doors.
“What happens is they go through a neighborhood while you’re sleeping and if you don’t lock your cars you wake up in the morning and find your GPS is gone and the coins you left in the ashtray are gone,” he said. “We have a lot of car, some break-ins, but a lot of just opening the door and stealing.”
When asked about a recent wave of alleged sex crimes in Smyrna, Hook attributed them to increased reporting, a theory also expressed by Officer Michael Smith, Smyrna Police Department’s public information officer.
“There’s no real data out there to indicate why we see that, but we kind of attribute it to one, you saw all the other more severe crimes go down," he said to Smyrna-Vinings Patch last week. "So we’re theorizing that child awareness educational programs about ‘good touch/bad touch’ have impact on preventing the more serious crimes.
And also, I think public awareness. You have so many people come out saying, ‘I was assaulted as a child’ and children’s ability and comfort level with disclosing that may be attributing to an increase in reporting. There’s no real way to nail down cause and effect."