Chesterton Tribune

 

 

PCSP: Crimes against persons down in 2016; drug abuse driving property crimes

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Alcohol-related criminal arrests spiked in unincorporated Porter County in 2016.

Crimes against persons, on the other hand, dropped significantly.

Crimes against property, while up-ticking last year--a trend apparently driven by drug addiction--were still well below historical levels.

Meanwhile, countywide, heroin and opioid overdoses sharply increased last year.

Those are the headlines from the Porter County Sheriff’s Office’s 2016 annual report.

Begin with alcohol- and substance-related crime. Officers made 216 alcohol-related arrests--excluding OWIs--last year, compared to 77 in 2015, a 66-percent increase and the most in five years (118 in 2013, 96 in 2012, 91 in 2014).

OWI arrests rose by only 3 percent, however, to 249 from 242 in 2015 (349 in 2013, 320 in 2014, 229 in 2012).

Drug-related arrested increased by 4 percent, to 216--the most in five years--from 207 in 2015 (202 in 2014, 166 in 2012, 156 in 2013).

Heroin and opioid overdoses in unincorporated Porter County slipped slightly in 2016, to 28 from 32 in 2015. But across the county overdoses were up 30 percent: a total of 74, compared to 57 in 2015.

Valparaiso Police investigated 14 of those overdoses (11 in 2015); Portage Police, 21 (seven in 2015); the Chesterton and Porter PDs, 10 (seven in 2015); and Hebron Police, one (zero in 2015).

Of those 74 total overdoses, 13 were fatal (10 in 2015). But the number of fatalities could have been much higher without the use of department-issued Narcan kits. Police officers and EMS used Narcan 31 times in 2016 (25 times in 2015).

Crimes Against Persons

No homicides were reported to the PCSP in 2016 (two each in 2015 and 2012, none in 2014 and 2013).

Five rapes were reported in 2016 (five each in 2015 and 2014, four in 2013, three in 2012).

The PCSP investigated three robberies in 2016, the second fewest in five years and down one from 2015 (seven in 2014, six in 2013, two in 2012).

Reported aggravated assaults dropped by 50 percent last year: to 13--the fewest in five years--from 26 in 2015 (36 in 2012, 32 in 2013, 28 in 2014).

Reported simple assaults also dropped, by 17 percent: to 144--again, the fewest in five years--from 174 in 2015 (179 in 2013, 172 in 2014, and 158 in 2012).

Crimes Against Property

The number of burglaries investigated by the PCSP, in contrast, rose by 33 percent in 2016: to 120 from 90 in 2015. Nevertheless, those 120 burglaries fall well short of the five-year high of 186 in 2013 (184 in 2012, 113 in 2014).

Of those 120 burglaries last year, 82 were of residential and other dwelling units, including hotels and hotel rooms. Another 25 were of outbuildings like barns and pole barns. Seven were of businesses and four of storage units.

The PCSP made 19 arrests, clearing nearly half of the residential burglaries.

“It is also worth noting that most of the burglaries that were not cleared were ‘non-forced entry,’ where the owners failed to lock their doors,” the PCSP said. “Most of those burglaries involved the theft of pharmaceutical drugs, specifically opiates.”

Thefts were also up, by 8 percent: to 340 from 316 in 2015. Again, those 340 thefts fell short of the five-year high of 659 in 2012 (582 in 2013, 368 in 2014.

Vehicle thefts fell dramatically, by 19 percent: to 30 from 37 in 2015 (51 in 2012, 34 in 2013, 31 in 2014).

Traffic Accidents and Incidents

Traffic enforcement was way up in 2016. PCSP made 12,495 traffic stops last year, up 24 from 10,101 in 2015. That number falls short, though, of the 18,914 traffic stops made in 2012 (17,558 in 2013, 12,738 in 2014).

Fully 30 percent more citations were issued as well: 3,738, compared to 2,868 in 2015 (4,056 in 2013, 8,863 in 2014, 3,184 in 2012).

Written warnings were also up last year, by 14 percent: 10,963, compared to 9,617 in 2015 (15,190 in 2013, 13,092 in 2014, 13,025 in 2012).

The PCSP investigated 6 percent more accidents in 2016: 1,806, compared to 1,707 in 2015 (1,848 in 2014, 1,701 in 2013, 1,658 in 2012).

There were seven fatal crashes last year, compared to nine in 2015 (nine in 2014, six in 2013, five in 2012)

There were also 314 personal-injury crashes in 2016, compared to 318 in 2015, a slight drop of 1 percent (362 in 2013, 357 in 2014, 334 in 2012).

Property-damage crashes increased by 7 percent last year: to 1,340 from 1,256 in 2015 (1,336 in 2014, 1,205 in 2013, 1,162 in 2012).

Arrests

Arrests of all kinds increased in 2016 by 12 percent: to 1,999 from 1,789 in 2015 (1,617 in 2013, 1,611 in 2014, 1,301 in 2012).

Of those 214 arrests were made for so-called Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Part I offenses: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. That number is down by 2 percent, from the 219 Part I arrests made in 2015 (215 in 2012, 214 in 2014, 194 in 2013).

Part II UCR arrests in 2016 were up 14 percent: to 1,195--the most in five years--from 1,044 in 2015 (800 in 2013, 784 in 2014, 595 in 2012).

Of all the arrests made last year, the PCSP said that those for the “most violent felonious crimes” were down 22 percent, while substance abuse was the “No. 1 driving force behind burglaries and thefts.” In particular, the PCSP said, “heroin and opiate prescription drugs can be directly associated with almost all of these Part I crimes.”

Sheriff Dave Reynolds had this to say about crime in Porter County: “If I were someone considering moving to Porter County, how can we answer these questions: ‘Is Porter County a safe county? Are our schools safe? Can I raise a family here?’”

“We at the Porter County Sheriff’s Office believe the answer to all of those questions in undoubtedly Yes,” Reynolds said. “Our statistics, our programs, our training, our officers, and our staff all show that to be true.”

 

 

Posted 2/2/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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