Editorial: Decent start
There is good news and bad in crime statistics for Lawrence released this week.
The good? Crime rates decreased in almost all categories from 2005 to 2015. The bad? During the past 10 years is good news, but the numbers also reveal that there is still work to be done.
Data collected by the Lawrence Police Department and organized by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation show that 10 of the 11 crime categories declined from 2005 to 2015. Total crimes reported per capita, violent crimes per capita and property crimes per capita are all down in Lawrence.
Between 2005 and 2015, the total number of crimes reported per 1,000 people in Lawrence dropped from 51.4 to 41.3, approximately 20 percent, the data show. Violent crimes per 1,000 people dropped from four in 2005 to 2.5 in 2015. Property crimes per 1,000 people decreased from 47.5 to 38.8, approximately 18 percent.
The stats definitely demonstrate an encouraging trend. But it must be noted that crime rates have decreased across the board in most Kansas cities, and in general, the rates of decline in Lawrence are slower than in cities such as Olathe, Overland Park and Manhattan. Lawrence’s crime rates are more closely aligned with urban communities like Topeka and Wichita.
Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said the geography of Lawrence — its proximity to Kansas City and Topeka — and the presence of the University of Kansas creates an environment where more people are coming in and out of Lawrence on a regular basis, making it more open to crimes than communities of similar populations in more isolated areas.
The one crime category on the rise in Lawrence is rape and it nearly doubled. The data show that 34 rapes were reported in 2005, compared to 60 in 2015. On average, approximately 48 rapes were reported each year during that time span.
Khatib rightly noted that the increase in rapes reported in Lawrence could be the result of better education and better policing that has increased the willingness of victims to report rape incidents. Still, it remains concerning that rape statistics in Lawrence are on the rise.
The crime stats show Khatib and the Lawrence police department deserve credit for working to reduce Lawrence’s crime rate. But within the stats, it’s also clear there is more work to be done to make Lawrence a safer community.