Crime rate decreasing in Boone County

Saturday, February 23, 2008 | 3:50 p.m. CST; updated 2:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — As the city of Columbia grapples with a 34 percent increase in violent crime over the past year, recently released crime statistics for the rest of Boone County don't follow suit.

In the county, eight out of 11 major areas of crime — including rape, assault and robbery — decreased in 2007, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

“There’s a whole bunch of factors that go into increases or declines in statistical data,” Maj. Tom Reddin said. “We would hope that our proactive nature has had an impact on these numbers.”

Other areas that decreased were domestic violence, burglary, larceny, vandalism and vehicle theft.

The Sheriff’s Department figures did show increases in a few areas. Child abuse and sexual assault of both adults and children have risen from 2006. All of these crimes are commonly underreported, Reddin said.

“Hopefully, the increase in those numbers isn’t that it occurred more, but that more people reported it,” Reddin said.

Reporting of crimes in general has increased, according to the report. In 2007, the number of calls dispatched was 21,802, which is up 1,168 from 2006. While the number of calls from residents has increased, the amount of patrol-initiated efforts has actually declined between the two years from 28,930 to 22,125 .

The only other area in which numbers have gone up is in the value of property taken during crimes, according to the statistics. Reddin offered one possible explanation for this.

“It’s not necessarily a change in what they’re deciding to steal,” Reddin said. “The value is based on the value of the item as it’s given to us by the victim.”

The value of property stolen may have increased, but Reddin noted that the statistics for case clearances in burglaries provides a better outlook for the department. In 2007, 83 of 195 burglaries were cleared by the department. In 2006, only 52 of 212 cases were cleared.

“I think we’re ahead of the national average on these clearances,” Reddin said. “We have nearly a fifty percent clearance.”

He attributed the high recovery rate to good work by the department’s investigators. Overall, the statistics offer important information for the public, but Reddin hesitated to draw conclusions from the numbers.

“We have compiled these numbers, but we have done no analysis on them,” Reddin said. “I don’t think that we can make any social interpretations.”

Michael Pittman contributed to this report.

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