Bloomington sees increase in assault crimes in 2012

By Beau Ebenezer

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 11:17 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- There were 284 reported cases of aggravated assault in Bloomington in 2012. That number is up 22 percent from 2011.

Are the streets of Bloomington becoming more dangerous as years go by?

Officials said no.

"If you looked at it really close, there are two different gangs in town and they've been after each other," said Bloomington Public Information Officer Dave White. "Everything that was going on seemed like it was these two groups, and within the last two to three months we've arrested eight different people. It just seems like those were the instigators of it."

Officials said all other crime has decreased, including sexual assault and robberies, which were each down about 30-percent.

Now, Bloomington Police will look to move forward with their strategic plan over the next three years, hoping to add more surveillance cameras throughout the downtown area.

Officials said they have five to six cameras set up already, which have helped them gain information on many cases including a fatal hit and run that happened last June.

"Part of that accident was caught on our video camera and other footage was on State Farm's Camera. So we were able to see and piece together footage and come up with speeds and other type of foot traffic that was going on at that time," said White.

However, with future surveillance plans hanging in the balance, the make-up of the of Bloomington Police Department will be somewhat different in the coming years.

Police Chief Randy McKinley is leaving his position after 28 years of service with the department.

Assistant Police Chief, Clay Wheeler has been appointed as interim Chief.

"Problem-oriented policing is something we will continue with. I've been very active in that, so that is just something I'll continue with. Its not something where I have to try to fill his shoes because we've been doing it together for awhile," said Wheeler.

With a different police chief and a set strategic plan, Bloomington Police officials said they are prepared and hopeful for another year of steady numbers.

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