Riley County crime rate up slightly in 2012

By Katherine Wartell

Riley County Law Board members reviewed 2012 crime data Tuesday indicating a slight increase in crime incidents during the year.

The reports indicate that there was 3 percent increase in crime county-wide from 2011 to 2012, with a 1.6 percent increase in person crimes and a 3.2 percent increase in non-person crimes, the latter including burglary and theft. The total number of incidents increased from 1,633 to 1,682.

The most significant differences were in Ogden and Riley County, excluding Ogden and Manhattan. In Ogden, there was a 23 percent decrease in crime from 2011 to 2012, with a 78.3 percent decrease in person crimes, from 23 incidents to 5. Incidents of aggravated assault decreased from 17 to 4.

In Riley County, excluding Ogden and Manhattan, overall crime increased 57.6 percent from 2011 to 2012, going from 66 to 104 incidents. Non-person crimes increased 61 percent from 59 cases reported in 2011 to 95 reported in 2012.

In 2012, there were 67 reports of use of force by officers. Since 2008, there has been a 58 percent reduction in use of force by the department’s personnel.

The majority of use of force occurred between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m., with most either taking place in Aggieville, with 12 incidents, or the jail, with 24 incidents. Officials estimated that department employees had face-to-face contact with approximately 72,000 people in 2012.

A total of 403 motor vehicle accidents were reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. Of those, 273 were on public roadways and unrelated to weather or animals. That is a decrease from 295 in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The areas with the highest number of traffic accidents were the intersections of Fort Riley Boulevard and Scenic Drive; Tuttle Creek Boulevard and N. Seth Child Road; and, E. Poyntz Avenue and Tuttle Creek Boulevard. Those locations were not identified as high-traffic areas in the third quarter of 2012.

During the fourth quarter, officers made 4,059 traffic stops, which was down 38.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. A total of 1,284 non-accident related citations were issued, a 28.7 percent decrease from 2011, and 2,340 warning citations were issued, a 46.1 decrease from 2011.

The most frequent non-accident citations were for speeding, cell-phone violations and license plate violations.

The most frequent accident-related citations were for inattentive driving, failing to yield the right-of-way and following too closely, which officials said have consistently been the leading cause of accidents.

Departmental goals

Brad Schoen, director of the department, told board members that the department’s goals for 2013 includes improving traffic safety, reducing the incidence of part one crimes per 1,000 residents by 2 percent, and maintaining public satisfaction with department employees and services. Part one crimes include burglary, assault, robbery, homicide and rape.

Schoen said the department also has two action items for 2013: present a Certificate of Need to the Law Board for approval regarding a new shooting range facility, and identify and implement methods by which the department is better able to interact with the community’s growing Hispanic population.

Schoen said he is concerned that there is victimization taking place that the department is unaware of due to language barriers.

Board member Wynn Butler suggested the department look into technological enforcement as a goal for traffic safety, while board member Dave Lewis suggested adding the ongoing discussion on mental health to the department’s action items list.

For the past year, officials have been discussing how to best handle citizens with mental health issues who have been apprehended by police officers. A task force was created but the matter has remained largely on the ground, though the department has looked into the cost associated with housing inmates with mental health issues in the Riley County Jail.

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