Our Opinion: Weighing crime statistics
Friday, March 11, 2011
Although interpreting crime statistics is an inexact science, the numbers from Jefferson City and Cole County show some encouraging signs.
Crimes against people and crimes involving drug and alcohol abuse largely declined.
Property crimes, including burglary and larceny, increased.
Both Jefferson City police Chief Roger Schroeder and Cole County Sheriff Greg White linked the rise in property crimes to the economic decline.
Schroeder observed: “I have learned the inexact nature of attempting to attribute the rise or fall of crime frequency to a specific reason or reasons, but I do believe the rise in property crimes, which resulted in an overall rise in crime, can be attributed to the recession.”
Burglaries, for example, from 2009 to 2010 increased from 219 to 284 in Jefferson City and from 91 to 99 in Cole County.
In contrast however, assault during that same period decreased from 189 to 151 in Jefferson City and from 292 to 211 in Cole County.
County statistics involving drug and alcohol crimes also declined during the one-year period, including: drug abuse, from 55 to 51; DWI, from 254 to 174; and liquor law violations, including minors in possession, from 117 to 80.
Statistics are useful, but they are not definitive.
With regard to liquor law violations, for example, state budget cuts for enforcement transferred much of the burden to local jurisdictions.
Does the statistical decrease, therefore, reflect fewer offenses or fewer apprehensions?
Local authorities are acutely aware that numerous variables blur any clarity afforded by statistics alone.
Although room for improvement remains, the overall data reflects a commendable job by local law enforcement agencies.