CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Police in Kanawha County investigated seven slayings in 2013, the lowest total in the past several years.
This number is on par with national trends reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which indicated a 1.9 percent decline in murders since 2008.
Homicide rates have dropped by about 75 percent in Kanawha County in the past five years, said Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants.
He attributed the lower numbers to his office's hard stance against repeat violent offenders. Plants said he's gone after the "10 percent of Kanawha County residents that cause about 90 percent of the crime."
"Since 2009, my office has focused on career criminals and removing them from the streets," Plants said. "Over the years, this has had an effect, and law enforcement has done a great job not just being reactive but being proactive."
In 2009, police investigated 22 slayings in Kanawha County. There were 23 in 2010 and 19 in 2011. Plants said these numbers also include police shootings, suicides and accidental shootings.
Two of the seven 2013 cases were apparent murder-suicides, and one slaying, committed in Mink Shoals, remains unsolved. Charleston police investigated only one slaying within city limits, a historic low.
"This has been the lowest it's been in at least 20 years," said Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper.
Cooper said the lower rate could be attributed to police targeting areas that are prone to violence. He credited U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's Drug Market Intervention initiative, which is a partnership with city police aimed at eliminating illegal drugs on Charleston's West Side.
"The murder rate fluctuates and it's unpredictable," Cooper said. "We are just thankful that it was so low this year. We just wish it was zero."