Crime rates mostly declined in 2014 in St. Tammany Parish _lowres


St. Tammany Parish officials like to tout public safety as a boon of living on the north shore, and 2014 crime statistics released by the parish’s major law enforcement agencies show that their already quiet streets and roads were even more peaceful in 2014.

Slidell, the parish’s largest city, experienced a 10-year low in crime that included a 27.5 percent drop in violent crime and an 11.4 percent drop in property crime in 2014 from 2013, according to Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith.

Overall, the city had 1,529 serious crimes that fall under the Uniform Crime Report, down from 1,646 in 2013.

Smith credited community outreach programs, proactive homeowner groups and the public’s willingness to cooperate with the department for the decrease.

Slidell had five homicides in 2013 but none last year. Incidents were down in all categories except rape, which increased from 10 to 11.

Covington had an increase in reported rapes as well, going from none in 2013 to four in 2014.

Covington reported 549 crimes covered by the Uniform Crime Report, compared with 498 in 2013. But Police Chief Tim Lentz noted that there were only two more crimes against people in 2014 than in 2013, and the most significant increase was in thefts, including shoplifting, which jumped from 38 cases in 2013 to 75 in 2014.

Mandeville saw an increase in only one category, assaults, which rose from 73 to 91, although only eight of those were aggravated assaults. Mandeville had no homicides and no rapes reported last year.

St. Tammany’s unincorporated areas did see a slight increase in violent crime of just over 1 percent, going from 839 incidents in 2013 to 848 in 2014.

The Sheriff’s Office called that statistic virtually unchanged from the previous year and noted that the total number of violent crimes in the parish has dropped nearly 46 percent over the past five years.

But four people were killed in St. Tammany last year — all of them in unincorporated areas of the parish.

Rapes and aggravated assaults were both up in unincorporated St. Tammany last year, although the Sheriff’s Office pointed to a 16 percent drop in overall crime reports. The parish fared better when it came to property crimes, with a 23 percent decrease from what the Sheriff’s Office described as already low numbers.

In total, 2,459 crimes were reported in unincorporated St. Tammany in 2014, compared with 2,918 in 2013.

The year began with the double murder of Jacob Middleton Sr. and his 2-year-old daughter, who were allegedly shot to death by Middleton’s teenage son, Jacob Middleton Jr., in January.

Melinda Denny was found stabbed to death in March after a man she was traveling with from Mississippi, Johnathan Nall, had a two-hour standoff with police. He was charged with second-degree murder.

Nicholas Carmen, who was stabbed to death near Slidell in late November, was the final homicide victim of the year. The Sheriff’s Office said 17-year-old Clayton Maricle, who was on furlough from a group home, stabbed Carmen after the two quarreled.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain praised his agency’s “solve rate,” which he pegged at 61 percent for 2014, 43 percent for nonviolent crimes and 95 percent for violent crimes.

Strain compared that with a national average of 18 percent for nonviolent crime and 47 percent for violent crime, calling St. Tammany’s rate “an almost unheard-of achievement for a jurisdiction of our size.’’

Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.