Crime is down in Tuscaloosa across all five "Big 5" categories - especially when looking at five years of data, which reflects huge declines over time.

That means the number of murders, burglaries, robberies, vehicle break-ins and vehicle thefts all declined year-over-year, the Tuscaloosa Police Department reported, continuing a long trend of falling crime rates in the city.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley presented TPD's 2023 annual report - which is available online here - to the city council's Public Safety Committee Tuesday afternoon.

The positive report may seem discordant after several weeks of well-publicized gun violence in the city, brutal murder in TPD's jurisdiction in Holt Sunday and a daytime shooting at a gas station later the same day.

City councilman Lee Busby expressed the sentiment well when he asked Blankley for data about shootings that do not end in someone's death.

"If you're the normal citizen or resident and you're reading the news or watching the news every day, you're thinking Oh my lord, they're just banging away on all sides," Busby said.

"Shooting into occupied dwellings and vehicles are up, attempted murders are up, murder is down," Blankley answered.

While the chief acknowledged that the number of nonfatal shootings had risen, he said numbers are down across all the "Big 5" crimes listed above - slight declines year-over-year, but generally precipitous drops over 5 years.

(Tuscaloosa Police Department)
(Tuscaloosa Police Department)

Take burglary, for instance - there were 358 reported in Tuscaloosa in 2023, nicely down from 386 in 2022 - but around just half of the 714 TPD investigated in 2019.

Robberies spiked in 2019 when there were 197 committed in Tuscaloosa in a single year - TPD said that number has fallen to just 61 in 2023.

Murders - which TPD called one of the most difficult crimes to predict and prevent - are also down year-over-year and across five.

(Tuscaloosa Police Department)
(Tuscaloosa Police Department)

Vehicle thefts and vehicle break-ins are also down about 50 percent over the five years.

Chief Blankley said so far in 2024, TPD is seeing an uptick in unauthorized breaking into vehicles and vehicle thefts, and that police are seriously worried about the number of guns stolen from vehicles every week, which often are used later in other crimes.

Still, the trends across the "Big 5" are worth celebrating, and the report said TPD "far exceeded" their established goal of reducing Big 5 crime by 5 percent in year-over-year - across all five categories, crime was down 11.2 percent in '23.

"I was looking at some numbers from around the country this morning and some of these places are up 100 percent, 170 percent, 70 percent on different crimes, so there are pretty amazing numbers," said city councilman John Faile, a former TPD officer himself.

Blankley said TPD responded to more than 105,300 calls last year, making 5,556 criminal arrests and 683 court summons arrests, and worked more than 5,600 accidents.

TPD also fatally shot an allegedly armed citizen during a December traffic stop, but a grand jury cleared the officers involved of criminal wrongdoing last month.

For more from TPD and for other exclusive coverage of crimes and courts in west Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

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