Franklin County deputies responded to more calls, wrote more reports and booked an increased number of inmates in 2017.
But according to Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton, crime is not up “drastically.”
In 2017, there were 14,299 reports generated by sheriff’s office staff. That is compared to 12,591 in 2016.
“Crime is not drastically rising,” Pelton told The Missourian. “Much of the increase is deputies being proactive. They are out making great cases.
“Not all law enforcement is reactive — we are being as aggressive as we can with the criminal element,” he said.
One notable increase, Pelton said, is the number of stealing reports. There was an approximate 8 percent jump in stealing reports in 2017 when there were 860. There were 788 stealing reports in 2016.
Burglary also was up in 2017. There were 318 reports last year, compared to 299 in 2016.
“A lot of that is driven by drugs,” Pelton said.
The drug of choice among addicts in Franklin County still is heroin; however, officers are seeing a resurgence of methamphetamine that is coming across the U.S. border from Mexico. Authorities also are seeing a rise in cocaine in the area.
“Different drugs tend to go in cycles,” Pelton said. “When you limit the amount of one drug, those suffering from addiction move onto the next drug.”
There was an increase in the number of assault reports in 2017, which was 502. That is a rise of 45 reports from 457 the previous year.
According to Pelton, that is partly due to the reclassification of domestic assaults by the state.
The sheriff added that his office changed its reporting software. In 2017, the department switched from the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR) to the Missouri Incident Based Reporting System (MIBRS).
There was a decline in the number of suicides in 2017. There were 12 suicides in 2017, compared to 16 the year before.
“I am glad to see the suicides go down,” Pelton said. “I would like to think it is due to the partnership with mental health training. There are more resources for people to seek. We’re getting people to the hospital when they need to be.”
Each year the sheriff’s department continues to participate in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), a collaboration and community partnership between law enforcement, mental health service professionals, families that have lived that experience, and consumer advocates. This group serves the community’s needs, agrees on strategies for meeting those needs and organizes police training.
There were 16 rapes reported in Franklin County in 2017, which is an increase in 10 from the previous year.
Pelton said the increase could be attributed to the national “Me Too” movement, which has led to the empowerment of victims of sexual assaults and misconduct.
“The community is providing a better support system for victims who may have felt too ashamed to come forward in the past,” he stated. “Support systems are providing victims with more encouragement.”
Pelton noted that a victim of a crime should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to come forward.
“We encourage people to come forward and allow us to conduct an investigation,” he said. “Every victim deserves justice.”
Following are the other crime and activity statistics for 2017 and the increase or decrease compared to 2016:
Stealing, 860, an increase of 72;
Armed criminal action, 12, an increase of three;
Arson, nine, an increase of one;
Assaults, 502, an increase of 45;
Burglary, 318, an increase of 19;
Suicide, 12, a decrease of four;
Homicides, two, the same as previous year;
Property damage, 316, a decrease of 18;
Rape, 16, an increase of 10;
Robbery, four, the same as previous year;
Suicidal subjects, 202, an increase of nine;
DWI, 126, an increase of one; and
Assist other agencies, 387, a drop of 21.
The department’s civil division provides court security and serves documents for the courts, including summonses, subpoenas, writs, orders of protection, and other court-related documents. Many of these documents require personal service to the individual.
In 2017, the civil division served 7,039 court documents, up 121 from 2016.
The average daily inmate population in the county jail remains at over the maximum for the facility.
In 2017, the jail averaged 149 inmates per day, up 11 from the average in 2016.
The facility was designed to hold 130 inmates. On weekends, the number of inmates has reached as high as 184 inmates. The increase normally is due to inmates being ordered to serve sentences on weekends.
Last year there were 4,724 inmates processed. That is compared to 4,675 in 2016.