March 8, 2013 - Boise Police responded to 167,000 calls for service last year. That makes for a very busy police department. And although crime always makes news headlines, the real story is major crimes held steady reflecting a six year low.
Notably, crimes involving weapons and drugs dropped to at least a ten year low in Boise.
Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson says his officers are doing commendable job of not only responding to and solving crimes, but equally important, working with neighborhood and community groups to prevent crime.
The Chief says programs that use education and information sharing, like Neighborhood Watch, the retail crime prevention program, partnerships with business groups like the Downtown Boise Association, even communication through media and social networking work to prevent crime.
"There are real people and real stories behind these numbers. These charts and graphs reflect a lot of hard work from many people; officers and citizens going beyond daily duties and building partnerships and relationships that benefit public safety in Boise." said Chief Masterson.
"Less crime means fewer crime victims, fewer people in emergency rooms, less time lost at work, and better quality of life for many. It's the absence of crime and disorder that shows we're making a difference, as a police department and as a community."
BOISE'S 2012 CRIME REPORT:
Major crimes up less than 1%
- Major (Index) crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson up 0.9%.
- Theft reports, including shoplifting and theft from buildings have dropped to at least a ten year low. Theft from motor vehicles did increase slightly last year.
- Rape reports increased in 2012 after a dip in 2011, reflecting a similar report total to that of 2010. That is concerning, however analysis shows NO pattern among the reports and the vast majority involve individuals – suspects and victims who are known to each other. Each of these reports are actively investigated and city and county prosecutors are aggressive in bringing these cases to trial.
- Burglary, including both commercial and residential did increase in 2012 to levels above 2011 and 2010 but below 2009 and 2008. Burglary is often a crime of opportunity resulting from open doors or windows. Thieves avoid neighborhood where they know residents are active and alert and not afraid to call police if they see something out of the ordinary or suspicious. For information is starting a Neighborhood Watch in your area, contact Carrie Demirelli in the Boise Police Crime Prevention Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Major Crimes - National Comparison: According to the most recent FBI statistics for 2012 (Jan - June), major crimes throughout the West increased 4.2% compared to Boise's increase of 0.9%
Group A crimes, including sexual assault, battery, drug violations down 6.0%
- Weapons violations down 22% from 2011 - lowest in at least ten years
- Vandalism/Graffiti down 16.4% from 2011 - lowest in at least ten years
- Drug violations down 7% from 2011
- Increases in Group A crimes are occurring in Fraud (up 19.5%) and Forgery/Counterfeiting (up 11.4%). Fraud crimes tend to cross jurisdictions and are often perpetrated through e-mail or private internet-based sales. Fraud reports also include stolen financial transaction cards.
Group B crimes, includingbad checks, disorderly conduct, non-violent family offenses down 7.5%, continuing a five-year downward trend.
Complete report: Boise City Statistical Crime Summary for 2012
The following is an article written by Chief Masterson submitted to the Idaho Statesman as a Readers View:
MAKING SENSE OF CRIME AND STATISTICS
BY Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson
Someone once said, “Statistics are numbers looking for an argument.” Crime statistics are no exception.
Over the nine years I have served as Boise’s police chief, I have made a point of regularly sharing important statistics – reported crimes and calls for police assistance – so that you, the citizens we serve, can understand the true picture of safety in our community. For the past six years the numbers of reported crimes in Boise have decreased in nearly every category.
Many people are puzzled as to how that can happen in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Does need drive crime or greed? In some of our best financial years we’ve seen higher rates of crime; in some of our worst economies we’ve witnessed lower numbers. I don’t have a definitive answer, and neither do the many sociologists who debate about the causes of crime.
I am certain of this: Our perception of crime is largely influenced by our own autobiographies. How we view our own safety and that of our community varies for each of us, depending on where we’ve lived, what we have experienced, and how crime has personally affected us and our loved ones.
Those who have lived here in Boise for decades have seen some crime numbers creep up with time and population growth, but in the case of reported residential burglaries last year, the numbers were at all-time lows over the 25 years we’ve been keeping statistics. Those who came to Boise from larger cities might not be troubled by our levels of burglaries or even homicides; compared to where you previously lived, Boise’s crime numbers are small.
But if you’ve been the victim of a crime – say, a home burglary – the feeling that your most private space has been violated is devastating. Every crime is a number, but we also realize every crime has a victim who suffers real consequences.
Our perception of crime can also be shaped by the information your law enforcement agency chooses to share with you about specific crimes. Suppose the morning newspaper headline or breaking news on TV is “Businessman shot downtown.” For many people who work downtown, the initial reaction might be concern that this could happen to them. But what if the story behind the headline is that the “businessman” was actually a pimp for a prostitute and the shooting was prompted by his own illegal activity? With that additional information, most of us can distance ourselves from worry about becoming a victim of a similar crime.
At the Boise Police Department, we strive to release the information you need to be informed and feeling safe. But we must balance that with the rules of our criminal justice system, which sometimes means not disclosing specific details about a crime that might jeopardize a suspect’s constitutional rights.
Many crimes are opportunistic, so you can also help reduce the likelihood that you will be a victim of crime. Please visit us at boisepolice.org for neighborhood crime information and important crime prevention suggestions to keep you and your families safer. We could see a noticeable decrease in preventable crime if we locked our car doors, did not leave our unlocked vehicles running, removed all valuables, or kept them out of sight. We should also lock our house doors and keep our garage doors down, even when we are home.
Crime is a social problem, and we must put that into perspective as we go about our daily lives. A University of Texas sociology professor, Dr. Mark Warr, perhaps best summed it up by saying, “When people take precautions based on fear that restrict their life and their children’s lives, we restrict our freedom and we do so unnecessarily. Fear also undermines the civility and trust in our communities that make civic life possible, and that’s a terrible consequence for a democratic society.”
Safety is a priority for all of us. Boise is a special place, whether you are a life long resident or recently relocated, and we all need to work together to not only keep our community safe but in ultimately achieving our vision of making Boise the most livable city in the country.