Chesterton Tribune

County reports increase in drug arrests last year, decreases in crime overall

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Porter County Sheriff’s Police (PCSP) made significantly more drug- and alcohol-related arrests last year than it did in 2003.

But the number of traffic citations issued by the PCSP plummeted, while at the same time the number of traffic fatalities and personal-injury accidents spiked.

Meanwhile, both violent crime and property crime in the unincorporated county were at five-year lows in 2004.

Those are some of the trends revealed in the 2004 annual activity report released by the PCSP this week.

Begin with the roads:

•In 2004 the PCSP reported 14 traffic fatalities, a nearly twofold increase over the five reported in 2003 and one shy of the five-year high of 15 in 2000.

•In 2004 the PCSP reported 489 personal-injury accidents, a 23 percent increase over the 396 reported in 2003 and comparable to the five-year high of 501 in 2000.

•But the number of property-damage accidents reported last year by the PCSP decreased by 12 percent—from 1,555 in 2003 to 1,370 in 2004—and since 2000—when a five-year high of 1,737 was reported—has decreased by 21 percent.

•The number of hit-and-run accidents reported by the PCSP, on the other hand, has remained relatively stable over the last five years, with 118 in 2004, a five-year low of 84 in 2002, and a five-year high of 138 in 2001.

•The PCSP received 1,068 reckless driving complaints in 2004, an increase of 8 percent over the 990 received in 2003. Data are not available for previous years.

•The PCSP also received a five-year high of 254 DUI complaints in 2004, compared to 245 in 2003 and a five-year low of 173 in 2000.

•The PCSP performed 7,975 traffic stops in 2004, an increase of 7 percent over the 7,488 performed in 2003. Data are not available for previous years.

•Though performing more traffic stops, PCSP officers were not issuing more citations. In 2004 they wrote a five-year low of 2,905 tickets, a decrease of 99 percent from the five-year high of 5,616 written in 2004. Between 2003 and 2000 PCSP officers wrote an average of 4,678 tickets per year.

•PCSP officers did issue more warnings last year, 3,195 in 2004 compared to 2,638 in 2003, an increase of 21 percent. But those 3,195 warnings were still 16 percent fewer than the average of 3,783 issued per year between 2003 and 2000.

Crime

The number of violent crimes reported to the PCSP in 2004—murder, rape, and robbery—was at a five-year low of nine, although this category has remained relatively stable since 2000, averaging 11.75 per year:

•Murders: none in 2004 and 2003, one each in 2002, 2001, and 2000.

•Rapes: two in 2004, six in 2003, 11 in 2002, seven in 2001, and five in 2000.

•Robberies: seven in 2004, five in 2003, two in 2002, three in 2001, and five in 2000.

•The PCSP received reports of 234 assaults in 2004, dead even with 2003, but 30 percent fewer than the average of 332 reported between 2002 and 2000.

The number of property crimes reported to the PCSP in 2004—burglary, theft, and vehicle theft—was also at a five-year low of 936, a 28 percent decrease from the five-year high of 1,309 reported in 2000 and 25 percent fewer than the average of 1,240 reported per year between 2003 and 2000:

•Disquietingly, burglaries are bucking this trend. The PCSP received reports of 205 burglaries in 2004, an increase of 19 percent over the 172 reported in 2003 and 28 percent more than the average of 160 reported per year between 2003 and 2000.

•Thefts, however, are making this trend. The PCSP received reports of 600 thefts in 2004, a decrease of 35 percent from the 928 reported in 2003 and 38 percent fewer than the average of 975 reported per year between 2003 and 2000.

•Vehicle thefts are also bucking the trend. The PCSP received reports of 121 vehicle thefts in 2004, an increase of 39 percent over the 94 reported in 2003 and 16 percent more than the average of 104 per year reported between 2003 and 2000.

For all of the recent talk about substance abuse in Porter County, the number of alcohol- and drug-related arrests—excluding drunk-driving arrests—made by the PCSP last year was near a five-year low: 272 in 2004, an increase of 26 percent over the 216 made in 2003 but a decrease of 36 percent from the five-year high of 424 made in 2000 and 24 percent fewer than the average of 356 arrests made per year between 2003 and 2000:

•Alcohol-related arrests: 146 in 2004, an increase of 28 percent over the 114 arrests made in 2003 but 44 percent fewer than the five-year high of 263 and 31 percent fewer than the 211 arrests made per year between 2003 and 2000.

•Drug-related arrests: 126 in 2004, an increase of 24 percent over the 102 arrests made in 2003 but 28 percent fewer than the five-year high of 174 arrests made in 2001 and 14 percent fewer than the average of 146 arrests per year between 2003 and 2000.

•DUI arrests: 220 in 2004, an increase of 5 percent over the 231 arrests made in 2003 and an increase of 28 percent over the five-year low of 172 in 2000. Between 2003 and 2000 the PCSP averaged 203 DUI arrests per year.

The Jail

Last year adult bookings at the Porter County Jail (PCJ) hit a five-year high of 6,992, an increase of 14 percent over the 6,153 adult bookings at PCJ in 2003 and an increase of 45 percent over the five-year low of 4,811 in 2002.

One statistic worth pondering: both the number of adult males booked at PCJ and the number of adult females booked increased between 2002 and 2004, but it increased significantly more for females. In 2004, 5,510 adult males were booked, compared to 3,862 in 2002, an increase of 43 percent. But: in 2004, 1,482 adult females were booked, compared to 949 in 2002, an increase of 56 percent.

The average daily count at PCJ in 2004 was 395.16, compared to 308.50 in 2003 and 218.48 in 2000. The new PCJ opened in the fall of 2002 and has been housing federal prisoners, so meaningful year-to-year comparisons since 2000 are difficult to make.

Overall

The total number of PCSP dispatch incidents rose by 6 percent last year, from 28,877 in 2003 to 30,552 to 2004. Data are not available for previous years.

The total number of dispatch incidents in the county from all law-enforcement agencies rose by 5 percent last year—from 45,422 in 2003 to a five-year high of 47,843 in 2004. That five-year high represents a 29 percent increase over the five-year low of 36,982 in 2000.

 

Posted 5/6/2005