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Garland Co. making strides to lower crime rate | News

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Garland Co. making strides to lower crime rate

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's a city that hosts some of Arkansas' greatest attractions but just three years ago, Hot Springs had the highest crime rate for a city it's size in the country.

In 2009, the FBI classified Garland County as having the highest property crime rate and the most burglaries per capita in the nation. Since then, law enforcement has made great strides in making the city safer and police say those crime rate numbers don't tell the whole story.

There are subtle hints at the Garland County Library in Hot Springs that point to a problem of crime.

"I think at one time, Hot Springs was with a higher crime rate compared to similar populated cities," says Hot Springs Police Chief David Flory.

According to Flory and many Hot Springs citizens, not everything is as it seems.

"The perception that we have a high crime rate in our community is really what we have to deal with. If people feel afraid and if people feel like they are in a high crime area then perception is their reality and we have to deal with the perception issue," says Chief Flory.

That is why the Garland Good Government Group held a meeting Thursday night to discuss crime in their community but a look around the room showed there are not many citizens concerned. Chief Flory says that's because crime statistics alone don't tell the whole story.

"A crime rate that's calculated on 35,000 population that sometimes has a day time population of upwards of 80,000 people in a community that has almost 3 million tourists a year," says Chief Flory.

Even with such a high volume of people, Chief Flory and his officers along with several city efforts cut the Hot Springs crime rate 10% in 2011.

"Burglaries were down 36%, robberies are down 36%, auto thefts are down significantly, and we attribute that to a lot of hard work," says Chief Flory.