February 7, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 42

Ups and downs of Cheney crime

Property crimes, calls for service increase in 2012 while drug and alcohol offenses, assaults decline

Cheney crime statistics for 2012 are somewhat of a mixed bag: some areas are down while others are up and a few changed very little.

According to the Police Department’s year-end report issued at the end of December, reportable offenses in the city dropped about 3.1 percent overall, down from 691 in 2011 to 669 last year. Four of the 10 categories saw decreases; led by a 31 percent decline in criminal alcohol offenses (down to 40 from 58 in 2011) and a 23.4 percent drop in assaults (72 down from 94), with a 48.3 percent reduction in restraining orders as well.

And while two other categories, drug offenses and motor vehicle thefts, remained relatively constant, rapes, thefts, burglaries and robberies all saw increases over 2011 figures. Notable is a 71.4 percent increase in robberies, up from four to 14, and a 34.7 percent jump in burglaries, 69 from 45 in 2011 while thefts increased 6.6 percent from 239 to 256.

Police Department Cmdr. Rick Campbell attributed some of the increases to the creation of greater opportunities to individuals predisposed to commit these type of crimes, particularly when it comes to thefts and burglaries. The highest months for burglaries were May (13) and June (14) when the weather was warming up and people were getting outside more and possibly forgetting to lock houses or leaving garage doors open.

The same – creation of opportunities – likely applies to thefts, where the months of May through July accounted for 100 of the 256 total for the year.

“A lot of the thefts we had were people leaving their stuff in their vehicles,” Campbell said. “Take your stuff with you into the house.”

Rapes doubled from three in 2011 to six, although Campbell didn’t believe that was significant since it’s not unusual for the city to have anywhere from eight to 12 such reports “once you take into account indecent liberties and other offenses like that.”

As for robberies, Campbell said there are two ways to look at the category. The first is the traditional “stick up” type while the second could be a theft or burglary gone wrong, such as a shoplifting attempt where the person was caught in the act and attempted to use force to keep the stolen property while escaping the premise.

“If they push a clerk or knock somebody over running out the door, that’s robbery,” Campbell said. “I think people are being more aggressive about it.”

On the patrol side, calls for service increased from 7,165 in 2011 to 7,225 in 2012, while reports also went up by 57 over 2011 figures to 1,327, the highest months again being May and June. Misdemeanor arrests dropped slightly, while felony arrests decreased 28.8 percent from 104 to 74. Traffic stops increased by 9.2 percent, 2,492 to 2,747 while warnings increased by 15.5 percent, 1,903 to 2,254, with citations dropping 16.2 percent from 598 to 493.

Overall computer aided dispatch calls (CAD) increased from 41,759 in 2011 to 44,590 last year, with 61 percent being Cheney calls and the rest calls for Eastern Washington University police. EWU calls increased 13.3 percent from 15,234 to 17,585 last year.

Campbell said he wasn’t sure of the reasons for the increased in CAD calls, but suspected more people might be calling about noise violations, particularly since the city changed its noise ordinance last April. The new ordinance increases the severity of a noise violation and allows officers to respond to a violation without receiving a formal complaint.

“It gave it a little bit more teeth so we can actually make an impact,” Campbell said.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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