Crime up in Jefferson; casino contributes to increase

Largest increase in burglaries

The distribution of $1.4 million in gaming proceeds to worthwhile projects, schools, cities, and neighboring counties by Grow Greene County earlier this month was a happy answer to the questions raised about the future of the county as proponents of casino gambling sought a gaming license for Wild Rose Jefferson.

The annual report of Jefferson police department activities for 2016, the first full year of operation for Wild Rose, provides an answer to other questions.

Crime increased 7 percent in Jefferson in 2016, according to the written report provided by Jefferson chief of police Mark Clouse to the Jefferson city council April 11. Clouse did not do a presentation.

The JPD’s call volume increased only slightly, from 3,562 compared to 3,549 calls in 2015.

However, the number of calls of a criminal nature increased 89 to 1,336 in 2016, compared to 1,247 in 2015, a 7 percent increase. Criminal calls made up 38 percent of the total call volume. That percentage was 35 percent in 215.

Clouse reported 120 calls – more than 11 percent of the total calls for service – coming from Wild Rose.

Sixty-three of them were criminal in nature. That included 18 calls for theft, 10 calls for public intoxication, seven drug-related calls, four calls for possession of alcohol under age and for trespass, three calls for criminal mischief and operating while intoxicated, two calls of assault and of domestic abuse, one call each for forgery, harassment, and a fight, and seven calls listed as “other”.

The 120 calls included 44 calls of a public service nature; of those, 31 were to assist other agencies. There were 13 traffic calls. Of those, six were property damage accidents.

Clouse reported the 120 calls required a total of 86 man-hours.

Looking at total calls (including calls to Wild Rose), the largest increase was in burglary calls, from 65 to 95, a 46 percent increase. Theft calls increased from 186 to 237, a 27 percent increase.

“Oftentimes criminals are no more than opportunists,” Clouse writes about burglaries and thefts. He suggested that homeowners can help deter such property crimes by keeping doors locked, keeping vegetation around the house trimmed back, and having adequate outside lighting. He also suggested keeping vehicles locked, the keys removed from the ignition, and valuables out of sight.

The JPD responded to 64 calls of drug use, an increase of 21 percent from the 53 calls answered in 2015. JPD officers filed 61 drug-related charges in 2016.

Calls of domestic assault increased 29 percent, from 76 to 98. Clouse reports his department takes “an aggressive approach to this behavior, while working within the limits of the Iowa domestic abuse statute. The JPD made 32 arrests for domestic assault abuse in 2016, twice the number of arrests in 2015. There were 13 accusations of sexual assault; charges were filed in two of them.

Officers responded 51 calls of assault, down from 59 calls in 2015; 65 calls of criminal mischief, down from 68 calls in 2015; and 156 calls of harassment, down from 167 in 2015.

One-half the calls (1,805) were public service in nature, including 374 calls about animals. That was a decrease of 52 animal calls from 2015. Public service calls include assisting other agencies, checking open doors, civil matters, fire calls, unlocking doors, etc. Calls for public service decreased from 1,852 to 1,805, a decrease of 2.5 percent.

JPD officers responded to 440 traffic-related calls, representing 12 percent of the total calls. That included one fatal accident, 12 personal injury accidents, 123 property damage accidents, and 26 hit-and-run accidents.

Officers issued 48 citations for driving while suspended, revoked or barred. They issued 385 traffic citation, 154 parking tickets and 621 traffic-related warnings.

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