Is crime in Ft. Sanders as bad as it may seem?

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - You may think criminals have preyed on the Fort Sanders neighborhood more than ever, but Knoxville police say, think again.

Statistics show overall crime dropped in the Fort from 2006 to 2007.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spoke with Knoxville Police and found out whether despite the numbers it doesn't make some residents fear disappear.

Depends on who you talk to. Newcomers say to the Fort's a scary place, but long-time residents agree it's been worse before.

It's nearly a Fort in the Fort.

"We have a security system that monitors the house 24/7. We've got locks to the point if we lock ourselves out it's hard to get back in our house," resident Kristie Johnson said.

If that doesn't do the job....

"I've got a hockey club. I've got a wooden billy stick," Johnson said.

Since January, criminals have robbed, assaulted, and fired shots in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. Kristie Johnson's lived here nearly a decade.

"If you live in an urban area, you're going to have more risks. The more people that you have, the more risks you have," Johnson said.

The Fort spans 50 blocks and holds about 15,000 people. That makes it the most densely populated area in Knoxville. One Johnson doesn't want to leave.

"We went to college here from 89 to 93, and I really like this is was more dangerous then. I can remember walking down the middle of the road as opposed to sidewalks," Johnson said.

That's how newcomer Jessica Henshaw feels now.

"Since the crime's gone up, I've known a couple people get mugged or attacked and I'm definitely on my guard a lot more," Henshaw said.

But Knoxville Police say overall crimes on the Fort's streets have dropped

"What we're seeing is a spike in crime, but it's the same spike that's being seen throughout the country," Knoxville Police Officer David Rausch said.

KPD says that spikes in crimes like robberies and burglaries, but overall crimes dropped by 61 incidents from 2006 to 2007.

"We have a very low crime rate for crimes against persons. Our crime rate is driven by property crime and so is there an epidemic? No there's not," Rausch said.

So far this year the Fort's had 20 incidents. Less than half are crimes like robbery or assault. Both KPD and UT police continue increased patrols both on foot and in cars. So the Johnson's plan to stay put.

"We love the Fort. We're in it for long haul," Johnson said.

Because for this is home.

Knoxville Police stats do show 10 forcible rapes reports in 2007. That's up from four in 2006, but police say, after investigation, only one of them could be verified.
Police blame the increase in robberies on the economy and other social factors, and they say increased concern among Fort Sanders residents comes from better communication about crime. Where it happens and when. Not...More crime.


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