Jefferson City saw an increase in reported rapes in 2017, while other crimes such as assaults and burglaries declined slightly, according to 2017 violent crime statistics released recently by the FBI.
In Jefferson City, the most serious crime — murder — remained the same as in 2016, with four murder cases recorded in Jefferson City in 2017.
Jefferson City's other 2017 crime rates included:
Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder noted the city's crime rates have been consistent over the years, with only a spike "here and there."
"A reduction this year may bring an increase next year," Schroeder said. "It's best to look at trends and stay away from year-to-year comparisons. In our case we haven't identified a trend in either specific crime(s) or in the total number of reported crimes each year."
"The Police Department has to be careful not to take credit for decreases or blame for increases," the chief added. "We are a component of the crime-fighting picture."
Schroeder said the most important factor is involving the public in preventing crime by educating them on how to protect themselves. Officers are available to provide assistance to anyone wishing to enhance their personal or business-related crime prevention strategies.
"We put the community action team in place after a 2005 spike in crime, and while I can't trace it exactly, I know they've had a significant, positive impact on crime in various neighborhoods," he said. "We have seven officers assigned to the CAT unit, and they are dedicated to the suppression of crime and related problems within neighborhoods which have been identified as experiencing an elevated degree of criminal activity."
Schroeder said larceny/theft is always the most frequent crime in any jurisdiction, and Jefferson City is no different.
While drugs are not the reason all crimes occur, Schroeder said JCPD finds assaults, rapes and thefts often are committed by people who abuse some type of drug.
In Cole County, outside of Jefferson City limits, there was one murder investigation in 2017, after there were none in 2016.
Cole County's other 2017 crime rates included:
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said he was pleased with the figures for his department, but he noted crime is becoming harder to investigate and it takes more time to solve crimes now than in the past.
"I wish we could be like what you see on 'NCIS' on TV, but it takes more time to investigate crimes in real life," Wheeler said. "Some of the technology you see on TV is out there, but it's way too expensive for us to have. Thanks to a grant, we just got a system called Rapid ID, which JCPD and the Missouri Highway Patrol have had for the past few years. This will allow us to take fingerprints at an investigation scene and be able to identify potential suspects."
Wheeler said he appreciates county residents' willingness to contact the Sheriff's Department when they see criminal activity.
"We can't be everywhere, and it's amazing to me the community we have that trusts us this much and let us know this information," he said.
Wheeler added law enforcement as a whole doesn't sufficiently quantify what they do.
"People can see we did 28,000 calls for service in a year, but that's just the incidents that get reported," he said. "I'm working to get with the 911 center and our own staff to do more to show the citizens what we're doing. If a deputy goes to a convenience store to get a soda and someone stops them to talk about what they should do about a certain situation, my deputy won't say anything about that because they look at that as just doing their job, and I understand that. But it is something they are doing on their job, and it's something we should be counting for. It's hard to go to the public or County Commission and explain why we need more manpower and resources without those numbers."
Statewide, Missouri had 600 murders reported in 2017, along with 2,729 rapes, 6,351 robberies, 22,740 aggravated assaults, 30,081 burglaries and 123,251 thefts, according to the FBI statistics.
The FBI's annual "Crime in the United States" report is a compilation of offenses, arrests and police employee data reported by more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies across the country. The full report is available online at fbi.gov/stories/2017-crime-statistics-released-092418.