(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)—Crime in the city has declined since 2017, according to a new report from the St. Joseph Police Department. Friday the department released its annual crime summary for 2018. The report showed that St. Joseph saw 11,715 crimes in 2018, down from 12,112 reported crimes in 2017, with a number of index crimes seeing a significant decrease.
“One thing I think is really important when you talk about crime statistics is that each one of these numbers represents somebody who in some way was negatively impacted in our community. Any time we are talking about numbers being up or down, if you’ve been impacted by a crime, we have to be sensitive to the fact that they are impacted by that crime,” Police Chief Chris Connally said. “Whether it's up or down is not significant, the bottom line is there is always work to be done and we always want to reduce the number of victims we have.”
Robberies in the city decreased 35 percent overall with 97 robberies reported in 2017 and 63 reported in 2018, reaching the lowest rate the city has seen since 2005. Burglaries decreased by 3.7 percent in the last year, and homicides have decreased by two instances.
The number of motor vehicle thefts decreased by over 200 instances, dropping the auto theft rate by 26 percent from 2017.
“When it comes to all these crimes, the underlying causes of crime is an issue; Alcohol, drug addiction, mental health issues, a lot of these are root causes of crime and these are a lot of issues we need work in,” Connally said.
The crime analysis reported 36 rapes in both 2017 and 2018, but Connally said due to the personally invasive nature of the crime, many incidents may go unreported.
Despite an overall decrease in the number of other violent crimes, aggravated assaults increased six percent from 2017 to 2018. Of the reported aggravated assault, 58 percent of cases were considered some form of domestic assault, compared to 47 percent in 2017.
“I think something that contributes to that, and it contributes to everything, is I think we have more drug addiction, more addictive personality disorder, and I think as you have more alcohol and drug abuse, I think you will see a strong relationship there with domestic violence,” Connally said.
In February the department switch reporting systems, from the Uniform Crime Reporting system to the more universal Incident-Based Reporting system.
“The uniform crime report is based on a hierarchy; if you had an incident with multiple crimes, for example, a burglary that involved an assault and a large destruction of property, it used to be recorded as a hierarchy, that would have been reported as the highest crime, recorded as one burglary,” Connally said. “Under incident-based reporting, which is what we started [doing] beginning last February, that is reported as a separate burglary, a separate assault and separate destruction of property.”
Connally said if the new system was applied to crime reports from last January, the department would see those numbers inflate. By 2020 police departments across the country will be required to use incident-based reporting.