Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Crimes against persons and property down in unincorporated Porter County

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Crimes against persons and crimes against property were mostly down last year in unincorporated Porter County.

Motor vehicle accidents were also down in 2015, as were OWI arrests, as was--surprisingly perhaps, given the increased safety of unincorporated roadways--traffic enforcement.

And the total number of Porter County Sheriff’s Office incidents--total 911 calls and alarms, plus total crime reports, plus total traffic accidents, plus total traffic incidents--was significantly down, in fact the lowest in at least five years.

Those are the highlights of the PCSO’s 2015 annual report, released last week.

Begin with reported crimes against persons.

In 2015 the PCSO investigated 26 assaults, compared to 28 in 2014, a 7-percent decrease (32 in 2013, 36 in 2012, 32 in 2011).

Simple assaults, on the other hand, upticked by 1 percent, to 174 from 172 in 2014 (179 in 2013, 158 in 2012, 163 in 2011).

Robberies were down by 43 percent last year, to four from seven in 2014 (six in 2013, two in 2012, three in 2011).

There were five reported rapes in 2015, the same number as in 2014 (four in 2013, three in 2012, four in 2011).

And there were two homicides (none in 2014 and 2013, two each in 2012 and 2011).

Neither of last year’s murders was random, the PCSP noted, but “directly related to domestic violence.”

Crimes Against Property

Both burglaries and thefts in unincorporated Porter County decreased sharply in 2015: burglaries by 20 percent, to 90 from 113 in 2014, easily the lowest number in at least five years (the largest number, 186, in 2013); and thefts by 14 percent, to 316 from 368 in 2014, again the fewest in five years (the most, 718, in 2011).

Vehicle thefts, on the other hand, did increase appreciably, by 19 percent: to 37 from 31 in 2014 (34 in 2013, 51 in 2012, 718 in 2011). The PCSO noted that most of these thefts were of recreational vehicles, like ATVs, dirt bikes, and snow mobiles, while many of the other thefts were committed by victims’ friends, family members, or employees.

Traffic Accidents and Incidents

Nine people died in motor vehicle accidents last year on unincorporated roadways in Porter County, the same number as in 2014 (six in 2013, five in 2012, eight in 2011).

Personal-injury crashes declined by 11 percent, to 318 from 357 in 2014, the lowest number in at least five years (with 368, in 2011, the largest number).

Property-damage crashes dropped more modestly, by 6 percent, to 1,256 from 1,336 in 2014 (the fewest in five years, 1,162, were recorded in 2012).

Although reckless driving complaints rose slightly in 2015--by 2 percent, to 1,349 from 1,317 in 2014)--every other category of “traffic incident” decreased:

* Traffic stops by 21 percent, to 10,101 from 12,738 in 2014, the fewest in five years (the most, 18,914, in 2012).

* Suspicious vehicle/person reports, by 9 percent, to 2,347 from 2,592 in 2014.

* OWI complaints, by 46 percent, to 21, from 39 in 2014.

* A total of 2,868 traffic citations was issued in 2015, compared to 3,863 in 2014, a decrease of 26 percent; a total of 9,617 warning was issued, compared to 13,092 in 2014, a decrease of 27 percent.

The PCSO is attributing the decrease seen both in crashes and in traffic stops to motorists’ using more care and paying more attention while they drive; and to officers’ focusing their enforcement efforts on high crash areas.

Officers, that is, made fewer traffic stops in 2015 but those stops were of a higher quality. “Officers are targeting high-crime areas and doing more thorough investigations on their traffic stops,” the PCSO said.

Arrests

An increased police presence in high-crime areas, coupled with more thorough investigations during traffic stops, is responsible, in turn, for a healthy rise in the number of arrests in 2015, the PCSO added: an 11-percent rise, in fact, despite 24 percent fewer OWI arrests and 15 percent fewer alcohol-related arrests.

Fully 1,789 people were taken into custody on criminal charges last year, compared to 1,611 in 2014 and the most in at least five years. Of those, 1,044 were charged with so-called Part 2 offenses-- anything but homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assaulted, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson--compared to 784 in 2014, an increase of 33 percent and the most in at least five years.

Part 2 arrests also rose marginally, by 2 percent, to 219 from 214 in 2014, also the most in at least five years.

Drug-related arrests rose fractionally, by 2 percent, to 207 from 202 in 2014, the most in at least five years.

Other Numbers

* A total of 5,969 persons was booked into the Porter County Jail last year, compared to 5,951, for a nominal increase of 0.29 percent.

* The average daily inmate count at PCJ in 2015: 401, a 2-percent drop from the 411 in 2014, and the smallest average daily inmate count in at least five years (the largest daily count, 467 in 2011).

* Total PCSO incidents last year: 35,671, compared to 41,281 in 2014, a decrease of 14 percent and the smallest number of incidents in at least five years (the largest number, 48,303, in 2013.

Drug Activity

“It’s important for the citizens of Porter County to understand that almost all crime is directly associated with drug abuse,” the PCSO said. And “we have seen an increase in substance-abuse and drug-related incidents.”

An overview of 2015:

* There were 32 overdoses in unincorporated Porter County and seven overdose fatalities, “Six of those deaths were heroin specific, which is down from 11 in 2014,” the PCSO said.

* In November 2014, the PCSO issued a naloxone rescue kit--a drug capable of reversing, almost immediately, the effects of an opiate overdose--to every patrol officer in the department. Last year officers used those kits to save 17 lives in unincorporated Porter County.

* Last year the PCSO produced a public service video entitled “Heroin: Not a Problem but an Epidemic,” which has been viewed on YouTube more than 77,000 times. Sheriff Dave Reynolds has personally screened the video to more than 2,000 students and citizens to raise awareness of the epidemic.

 

Posted 2/3/2016

 
 
 
 

 

 

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