Area crime stats down during 2013
Saturday, January 11, 2014 4:00 AM
Call volume for the Madison Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department was down for the 2013 calendar year.
In 2013, the Madison Police Department responded to 8,548 calls, down from 9,609 in the previous calendar year. The numbers from the sheriff's department went from 5,583 calls in 2012 to 5,267 calls last year.
The drop in calls isn't surprising to Police Chief Dan Thurston.
"I knew that our volume was going to be down a little bit," said Thurston, who has been tracking department numbers closely since September.
Thurston believes a number of factors have come into play to lower the call volume, including the number of arrests the department has made, aggressive prosecution and longer sentences being handed out by judges.
He also attributed the drop to aggressive patrols and the fact that there are more police vehicles in the community now.
One of the largest drops made in any one category was intoxicated driver or pedestrian. In 2012, there were 406 calls related to drunk driving or walking. Last year, there were 286.
"I think we made a lot of (drunk driving) arrests this year, and once the word got out on that, people started calling a cab or had a friend drive them," Thurston said.
The number of domestic violence calls was down about 90 from 2012. Thurston suggested aggressive prosecution of domestic violence cases could be the reason.
Domestic violence calls have dropped significantly every year since 2011.
The department had 318 school calls this year, which is the lowest it's been in recent years. It's almost half the number of calls the department received in 2010 (607).
Thurston said that number could continue to fall since Lt. Dan Slygh is now the school resource officer and in the schools full-time.
The number of drug-related calls increased. Calls went from 133 in 2012 to 142 last year.
"It's concerning in a year in which your call volume goes down, (drug calls) go up," Thurston said.
The number of drug calls worked by the sheriff's department more than doubled, going from 32 to 69. Sheriff John Wallace believes that increase is tied to two big decreases the department saw.
"Because we find so many times that when we arrest someone for burglary or arrest someone for theft, it's drug-related. They're doing something to fuel their addiction," Wallace said.
Though he can't specifically tie the two together, Wallace believes drug crimes are connected to thefts and burglaries. People break into homes and cars to steal items to sell in order to buy drugs.
By proactively going after drug use, the other theft and burglary numbers would go down, Wallace said. The theft and burglary calls were also down in 2012 from 2011.
The sheriff's department saw an increase in the average number of inmates per month. In 2012, the average number was 117.7, while last year it was 125.6. Wallace said the current inmate total is close to 110, which he said is a "very manageable number."
The average length of stay for an inmate in the jail is 34.5 days, Wallace said.
Other areas where the total numbers for MPD went up slightly were sex crimes (up from 12 to 14); security checks (68 to 79); abandoned vehicles (57 to 65); and burglar alarms (454 to 489), although the number of breaking and entering calls dropped by more than 100.
Sheriff's department calls went up in welfare checks (85 to 117); VIN checks (177 to 211); event coverage (55 to 91); and gun permits (228 to 314).
MPD's drop in calls comes a few months after the City Council approved additional funds for a 29th officer for the department. That money, Thurston said, is being used to open up another spot for a detective on the force.
A response could be that since call numbers are falling, the department wouldn't need to add more officers. Thurston disagrees.
"The main goal (of adding another detective) wasn't because of call volume," Thurston said. The goal was to more-thoroughly investigate calls we have ongoing."
"It's not going to change the way we respond to incidents," he added.