by Sarah Thomack
St. Joseph Post
The St. Joseph Police Department’s 2019 Crime Analysis Report shows overall reported crime numbers are down but motor vehicle thefts are up 12%.
According to the report (full report below, the total number of crimes reported in 2019 was 11,403 and the total number reported in 2018 was 11,715.
St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally says decreasing auto theft in St. Joseph will continue to be a focus in the department through prevention and education.
“A lot of our auto thefts have the keys in their car still, a lot of our auto thefts, particularly this time of the year, the car is still running. We also have a lot of auto thefts where people have lent the car to someone who’s not trustworthy," Connally says. "So those categories represent more than half of all our auto thefts.”
There were 650 auto thefts reported in 2019 compared to 579 in 2018.
Connally says underreported crimes have always been a concern, especially rapes and domestic violence. He says that's why they provide programs and resources to support those affected by domestic violence. The 2019 Crime Analysis shows a decrease in aggravated assault with part of that being a decrease in domestic aggravated assault.
“Some of our long term strategies dealing with risk analysis that we do in conjunction with the Y and lethality assessment surveys that we do, those are hopefully a long term impact," Connally says. "I’m hoping this is a continuing trend because maybe we're getting a little longer-term impact because that also involves the education and prevention end of domestic violence, so that's why we continue to pursue those types of ideas.”
Connally, after the release of the 2018 report, said the underlying cause of crime is an issue. In 2019, the department took steps to address the underlying cause by working with mental health liaison Kristen Siler, in partnership with Family Guidance.
“That’s really a part of that prevention and education. She’s been there for our officers in assisting us internally as well as going out there,” Connally says. “(I) can’t say enough about that partnership and the success… When you’re looking at causes of crime and major contributions of crime - drugs, mental health and co-occurring disorders, which is multiple mental health conditions, mental health combined with drugs - these are some of the techniques that actually start to get at some of those root problems to try to come up with solutions, as opposed to, when we put someone in jail sometimes that’s not getting at the root of the problem if someone has a mental illness or other challenges in life.”
Siler has worked with the department since February 2019 and has made contact with nearly 670 people since she’s been working with police; 175 of those received mental health treatment.
Connally says the Crime Analysis Report consists of the number of crimes actually reported to police. Connally adds the department is audited by the FBI and Highway Patrol to make sure they are following criteria for categorizing and reporting crimes properly.
The St. Joseph Police Department's 2019 Crime Summary:
Index Crime - In 2019, there were 4,726 Index (Part I) crimes reported. There were 5,131 reported in 2018.
Murder - There were 2 homicides reported in 2019 compared to 6 in 2018.
Rape - There were 35 rapes reported in 2019. There were 36 rapes reported in 2018.
Robbery - There were 54 robberies reported in 2019 compared to 63 in 2018.
Aggravated Assault - 211 aggravated assaults were reported in 2019 compared to 280 in 2018. 45% of all aggravated assaults were domestic related compared to 58% in 2018.
Violent Crime - Violent Part I crime was down 21% for 2019 compared to 2018 with 302 crimes reported. 386 crimes were reported in 2018.
Arson - 11 arsons were reported in 2019 compared to 12 in 2018.
Burglary - 592 burglaries were reported in 2019 compared to 727 in 2018.
Stealing - 3,171 stealing offenses were reported in 2019. There were 3,463 crimes reported in 2018.
Motor Vehicle Theft - There was a 12% increase in motor vehicle thefts in 2019. 650 thefts were reported in 2019 compared to 579 in 2018.