BAKER - The city has a low violent crime rate despite its poor school system, Police Chief Mike Knaps said Friday.
"We've turned the tables. Normally in crime statistics evaluation, where you have a low (-ranking) education system, you have a high crime rate. Our education system is low, but we have a very low crime rate," Knaps said.
Knaps said the publication, "Crime in Louisiana 2010," shows Baker had 23 violent crime incidents in 2010, or 1.7 per 1,000 population.
The Louisiana Sheriffs' Association and Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice recently released the report.
Although the report cautions against comparing statistical data in individual jurisdictions solely based on population, Knaps said he was pleased to see that no other Louisiana city of Baker's general size, 13,400, had lower incidences of violent crime.
The report, based on information reported to the FBI, includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault as violent crimes.
Forcible rape is defined as the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will and includes attempted rape.
Knaps said the reports show his officers are proactive and perform their duties "in a very acceptable way," while the majority of Baker's citizens keep in contact with the Police Department to assist police in timely solving crimes.
Baker had no homicides during 2010, the year featured in the latest report, but had two in 2011 and one this year so far.
"One was a domestic dispute, one was two friends arguing over a few dollars and the third involved suspects and a victim who didn't live here, don't normally come here and just happened to meet here," Knaps said.
During 2010, Baker reported two forcible rapes, 12 robberies and nine aggravated assaults.
Knaps reported the figures to the City Council on Tuesday, saying he thought the report speaks well for a city "that's separated by only a yellow line from Baton Rouge," referring to highway center lines.
He said many crimes reported in the media are said to be in Baker, but actually are in unincorporated areas served by Baker postal routes. The same is true for Zachary, he said.
Knaps said Baker's schools began to decline with forced busing of children to schools outside the city, and former Mayor Bobby Simpson's attempt to carve out an independent school system was blocked for years by the parish school system and others.
"When we finally got an independent system, we got one with absolutely no foundation. The School Board continues to struggle to set a foundation to build on," Knaps said.
"Baker can thrive again if our school system can find out how to fix itself. Our kids aren't failing the system; our system is failing the kids," Knaps said.