Archive for Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Editorial: Rise in crime worrisome

August 22, 2017

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The rise in violent crime is a concerning trend in Douglas County.

The KBI’s annual Crime Index Report compiles crime statistics reported to the KBI by local and state law enforcement agencies across Kansas, which are submitted through the Kansas Incident Based Reporting System. According to the statistics from the latest KBI report, violent crimes in Douglas County increased by 32 percent from 2015 to 2016, going from 281 to 370. Violent crimes are crimes that involve the use of physical force against another person. Examples include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault/battery.

Most concerning is the increases in aggravated assault. Incidents of aggravated assault increased 54 percent from 155 in 2015 to 239 in 2016.

Douglas County’s violent crime rate of 3.3 incidents per 1,000 people gives Douglas County the 18th highest violent crime rate among Kansas’ 105 counties. Douglas County’s violent crime rate is higher than the rates in Johnson, Riley and Reno counties.

The rise in violent crime is one reason for crowding in the Douglas County Jail. Those charged with violent crimes tend to face higher bonds and thus spend longer periods of time in jail than those charged with lesser offenses. The Douglas County Jail, which can accommodate 187 inmates, averaged 238 inmates per day in 2016, forcing the county to spend millions to house inmates in nearby jails and to work on possible solutions, which may include building a larger jail that could cost millions.

What is particularly frustrating is the rise in violent crime is occurring at a time when overall crime is on the decline. The total number of crimes in Douglas County dropped 3.7 percent from 4,173 in 2015 to 4,020 in 2016. That’s consistent with bookings at the county jail, which declined almost 10 percent from 2014 to 2016.

Law enforcement officials have theorized that much of the violent crime increase stems from an increase in robberies and assaults targeting drug dealers.

“When you think about the sale of narcotics, you think of money, drugs and guns,” Lawrence Police Capt. Anthony Brixius said recently. “Those things have value for a person associated with criminal activity. I certainly can’t say it would account for all of the increase, but I would agree that robberies of houses associated with narcotic deals are pretty common.”

Gregory Burns Jr. takes over Oct. 1 as Lawrence’s police chief. Burns is coming to Lawrence from Louisville, Ky., where he commands the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Support Bureau, which includes major crimes, narcotics, community services and special operations.

Hopefully, working in a market that is significantly larger than Lawrence (Louisville has 1.2 million people in its metro area) has given Burns the experience and knowledge necessary to help reverse recent trends.

Douglas County can ill afford to see violent crime trends continue to increase at double-digit rates. Law enforcement officials from every agency should work together to develop strategies for reducing such crime.

Comments

Bob Smith 3 months ago

If the dopers would be careful to only kill each other, this would become a self-limiting problem.

Francis Hunt 3 months ago

"Law enforcement officials from every agency should work together to develop strategies for reducing such crime." ~ LJW

Yes, let's put the onus on law enforcement instead of expecting citizens to obey the law.

Take for instance the upstanding young football player dismissed from the KU team this week. How does law enforcement prevent his blatant disregard for the law? How about the road rage idiot the other day on K10, how do you prevent that? How about the guy who murdered his 3 year old child and her mother and then killed himself, how does law enforcement prevent that? Then you have the two guys that walked into Kwik Shop in the middle of the night last week and shot the clerk, how could law enforcement have prevented that?

Let's put the blame where it belongs; parents and teachers you need to start teaching kids respect for others, respect for the law and conflict resolution/anger management. We have a couple of generations out there currently who think you solve problems through violence and force.

Francis Hunt 3 months ago

"Hopefully, working in a market that is significantly larger than Lawrence (Louisville has 1.2 million people in its metro area) has given Burns the experience and knowledge necessary to help reverse recent trends." ~ LJW

Don't count on it. Here is the trend he has been working in; Louisville had 54 homicides in 2014, 84 homicides in 2015 and 118 homicides in 2016.

Francis Hunt 3 months ago

And for those of you who are curious, through July, 2017 the homicide rate in Louisville was 15.5% higher than the same period in 2016. I don't think Louisville is a standard we want to hold ourselves to but I can understand why he wants out of Louisville.

David Holroyd 3 months ago

Why does the jail put two women in a cell but not two men? The men could double bunk and thus save money., and not house them at other facilities. And this is true...I have a source and TWO men are not kept in the same cell.

Could the unnamed staff writer investigate this....I should thnk an editorial writer would know about the situation at the jail.

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