BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – The Beaufort Police Department found a slight rise in assaults and adopted new non-lethal force tactics in 2020, according to the department’s annual report.

Violent crimes, such as homicides, rape, robberies and aggravated assaults tallied 68 in 2020, up ten instances from the previous year. That is still much lower than a recent high of 97 incidents in 2017.

Property crimes such as burglaries, thefts, arson and motor vehicle thefts remained almost the same as the previous year, the report found. Totally, there were 469 incidents of property crime in 2020, only an increase of nine incidents from the previous year.

Aggravated assaults nearly doubled, with 57 incidents in 2020, compared to 30 in 2019. Motor vehicle thefts also nearly doubled, reporting 22 thefts, up from 11 in 2019. Both crimes are lower than the recent highs reported in 2017.

An increase in domestic violence incidents and people being quarantined due to COVID-19 restrictions may have contributed to the rise in assaults, Chief Dale McDorman said.

More change was brought about to the department when longtime Chief Matthew Clancy died in July 2020 and McDorman took over.

Beaufort Police also adopted two new non-lethal force training tactics known as the Bola Wrap and Gracie Survival Tactics. The Bola Wrap restricts a suspect’s movements giving officers long enough to handcuff them and the Gracie Survival Tactics are jiu-jitsu defensive tactics, the department said.

The Bola Wrap was only used once in 2020 to subdue a potential shooter, police said. Officers used force 20 times in 2020, and officers used what’s known as the “empty hand control” (using hands to control a subject) in 19 of those instances.

Another new addition to the department will be a restart of a Community Response Team.

“This team will focus more on crime prevention, including attending neighborhood crime watch meetings and holding seminars for business owners on crime prevention,” McDorman said.

“We also plan a stepped-up presence in crime ‘hot spots.’ This will allow us to stay ahead of what might be developing trends.”

To view Beaufort Police’s annual report in full, visit here.