Kokomo police defend their city after report says area growing in violent crime

KOKOMO, Ind. – A new report just released from 24/7 Wall St. shows that since 2012, the Kokomo area has seen the largest increase of violent crime in the entire nation, with a rate of 122.5 percent. However, police say there's more to the story.

“Since I work here I’m like 'OK… I know there's crime obviously, but it didn't go up like that,’” Major Tony Arnett said to himself this morning after reading the report.

Their increase of 122.5 percent is drastically higher than every other area in the report.

“It makes it look like ‘oh my gosh, people get beat up left and right over there in Kokomo,’" Arnett said. "And that’s not what’s happening.”

The department began looking into the report, which lists aggravated assaults as a main reason for Kokomo's rising rate. They began looking at their own numbers, and say a switch in reporting software caused the sharp increase.

Before 2015, they used software called "Cisco," which then became "InterAct." The software would organize all of the police department's reports to submit to the FBI. The city says both systems use a different classification for aggravated assault.

"Cisco said if I hit you and you get hurt and go to the hospital, that’s considered an aggravated battery, an aggravated assault," Arnett said. "Now, InterAct comes into play and says I hit you, no matter what you’ve done, whether you go to the hospital or you didn't go to the hospital, that’s an aggravated assault.”

In 2014, FBI statistics show the City had 95 aggravated assaults. In 2015, the year the City says they began using the new software, that number jumped to 335.

“The software does this, we’re not hiding anything," Arnett said. "It’s just how the report writing is.”

Since 2015, aggravated assaults in Kokomo have remained relatively level, going down to 323 in 2016, up to 327 in 2017, and decreasing to 248 in 2018.

Kokomo residents enjoying a sunny day downtown told FOX59 that they feel safe in their city, and don't believe violent crime is the issue.

“I feel like there is a lot of small time but nothing too major,” said Malachi Butzin. "Our biggest problem is a rise in drugs.”

"Not that I’ve seen really,” said Dan Pointer, “not a spike in violent crime that would constitute the worst in the nation."

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