BILLINGS — Violent crime is a hot topic in the city of Billings. There was a stabbing last week and with several murders still unsolved, there's growing concern in Magic City.
"A lot of this stuff is really scary, it's shootings and stabbings.... it's violent crimes," said Kendra Shaw, a Billings City Council member who represent primary the South Side.
Despite the recent crimes, there's reason for optimism.
"If you look back from last year to this year, from Jan. 1 to July, we’re actually at a 15.2 percent decrease in our violent crime," said Lt .Matt Lennick of the Billings Police Department.
Violent crime is on the decline in the city this year but that's after a sharp 24 percent rise from 2020 to 2021. Lennick believes there are several reasons public perception persists that violent crime is still rising in Billings. Among them is the prevalence of information shared on social media.
"You’re seeing a lot of the community watch, neighborhood watch pages on Facebook. There’s a lot of involvement there where people are scanning our channels, our radio channels and they’re putting out our information at a rapid response," added Lennick.
With that comes increased exposure to the events but those groups may also play a role in curbing future crime. Among the efforts being taken, neighborhoods are coming together by having barbecues and ice cream socials in an event to get to know their neighbors better.
"There are ways that we can all impact the safety of our neighborhoods and one of the ways is getting to know your neighbors... when people know each other, actively work together and watch out for one another while building a community inside their neighborhood it can have a very significant impact on public safety," said Shaw.