Chesterton Tribune



PCSP: Serious crime increases in 2019; fatal crashes way down; OWI arrests up

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Serious crime spiked in unincorporated Porter County in 2019--though with a caveat.

Fatal motor vehicle accidents were significantly down, OWI arrests were significantly up, and booking activity at the Porter County Jail dropped by a bunch.

Those are the headlines from the PCSP’s 2019 annual report.

Begin with crimes against persons and property, those categorized under Part I of the Unified Crime Report submitted by law enforcement agencies to the FBI: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, burglary, theft, and vehicle theft. Total Part I crime--532 incidents of it--increased by 10 percent in 2019, up from 483 in 2018. The caveat: the 483 Part I crimes in the prior year reflected a 28 percent drop from the 669 Part I crimes investigated in 2017 (655 in 2016, 654 in 2015).

As the PCSP observed, “While the statistics show an increase from 2018, it’s very important to note that 2018 was the lowest reported year (for Part I crimes) in the last five. In addition, (2019’s) reported crimes were still lower than 2015, 2016, and 2017.”

The Part I crimes in 2019:

--Two murders, compared to none in 2018 (one in 2017, none in 2016, and two in 2015).

--Eight rapes, compared to eight in 2018 (nine in 2017, five in 2016, and five in 2015).

--Four robberies, compared to three in 2018 (four in 2017, three in 2016, and four in 2015).

--10 aggravated assaults--the lowest in five years--compared to 12 in 2018 (15 in 2017, 13 in 2016, and 26 in 2015).

--166 simple assaults, compared to 147 in 2018, up 13 percent (150 in 2017, 144 in 2016, and 174 in 2015).

--74 burglaries, compared to 68 in 2018, up 9 percent but the second lowest in five years (95 in 2017, 120 in 2016, and 90 in 2015).

--241 thefts, compared to 213 in 2018, up 13 percent but the second lowest by far in five years (355 in 2017, 340 in 2016, and 316 in 2015).

--25 vehicle thefts, compared to 32 in 2018, down 22 percent and the lowest in five years (40 in 2017, 30 in 2016, and 37 in 2015).

In short, the increase in Part I crimes is chiefly attributable to sharp rises in the incidence of simple assaults and thefts.

Part II crimes, on the other hand--operating while intoxicated, for example, drug offense, forgery, fraud, public intoxication, vandalism, and weapons offenses--fell by 13 percent in 2019, the lowest in five years: 1,559 incidents of Part II crime, compared to 1,786 in 2018 (1,997 in 2017, 1,921 in 2016, and 1,608 in 2015).

“Porter County is listed by the United States census data as the ninth largest county in Indiana,” the PCSP said. “Porter County is located between two major metropolitan counties, LaPorte and Lake, which have vastly different crime statistics. Our county is the fastest growing in the State of Indiana because people see and believe that Porter County is a safe place to work, live, and raise a family. We are all blessed to live in Porter County.”

Substance Related

Arrests for operating while intoxicated increased by 10 percent in 2019 to 325, up from 296 in 2018 and the most in five years (195 in 2017, 249 in 2016, and 242 in 2015(.

Alcohol-related arrests (not including OWIs) plummeted by 56 percent to 27--the fewest in five years--compared to 61 in 2018 (55 in 2017, 125 in 2016, and 77 in 2018).

Drug-related arrests also dropped dramatically, by 23 percent to 116--also the fewest in five years--compared to 151 in 2018 (207 in 2017, 216 in 2016, and 207 in 2015).

“In 2019, we had a total of 11 officers meet the criteria to attend the Drunk Driving Task Force’s DUI Banquet, where they were honored for their work in keeping our roads safe and removing those driving under the influence from our streets,” the PCSP said. “The Sheriff’s Office led the way with a total of 325 overall DUI arrests.” In addition, Officer Barton of the PCSP had more OWI arrests than any other law enforcement officer in the county.

Traffic Accidents

and Enforcement

The number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in unincorporated Porter County last year dropped to a five-year low: three, compared to nine in 2018, a decrease of 67 percent and the fewest in five years (15 in 2017, seven in 2016, and nine in 2015).

The PCSP is attributing the 67-percent decrease in fatal accidents to the 10-percent increase in OWI arrests.

Personal injury accidents were up by 3 percent: to 300, compared to 290 in 2018 (284 in 2017, 314 in 2016, and 318 in 2015).

Property damage accidents were up by 6 percent: to 1,385, compared to 1,306 in 2018, the most in five years (1,304 in 2017, 1,340 in 2016, and 1,256 in 2015).

Hit-and-run accidents were down by 2 percent: to 60, compared to 67 in 2018 and the fewest in five years (83 in 2017, 91 in 2016, and 78 in 2015).

Other categories:

--Traffic stops dipped last year by 2 percent: to 12,523, compared to 12,796 in 2018 (15,083 in 2017, 12,495 in 2016, and 10,101 in 2015).

--Citations were basically unchanged: 2,099 issued last year compared to 2,097 in 2018 (3,461 in 2017, 3,738 in 2016, and 2,868 in 2015).

--Warnings dropped by 4 percent: to 10,469, compared to 10,853 in 2018 (12,476 in 2017, 10,963 in 2016, and 9,617 in 2015).

Other Numbers in 2019

--911 calls increased by 33 percent: to 5,260, compared to 3,948 and the most in five years (3,613 in 2017, 3,721 in 2016, and 4,184 in 2015).

--Total PCSP incidents rose by 3 percent: to 38,062, compared to 37,005 in 2018 (40,103 in 2017, 37,571 in 2016, and 35,671 in 2015).

Jail Count

The total number of people booked into the Porter County Jail in 2019 dropped by 11 percent: to 5,319, compared to 6,001 in 2018 and the fewest in five years (6,338 in 2017, 6,214 in 2016, and 5,968 in 2015).

The PCSP attributes this significant decrease to “multiple strategies and classes that are being implemented in the Porter County Jail” with the idea of “helping to reduce recidivism and giving offenders a real opportunity to change their lives if they choose to. This can be seen by the average (daily) population of the jail being down 6.5 percent.”

Following a tour of PCJ in October by the Indiana Jail Overcrowding Task Force, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David called the results of those programs “nothing short of extraordinary.”

“We too believe what is going on in Porter County is absolutely nothing short of extraordinary,” Sheriff David Reynolds said. “It could not be done without the participation and will of our great citizens, whom we are honored to serve.”

Other Programs

“We are very proud of the proactive measures that we began in years past and are continuing, some of which are body and in-car cameras, placing naloxone in each officer’s hands to help deliver a second chance at life for those who overdose, and the Heroin Overdose Response Team, the Porter County Multi-Enforcement Group, and our ‘One County, One Protocol’ school safety program.”



Posted 1/17/2020





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