Editor’s note: Second in a series reviewing 2012 in St. Clair through various departmental statistics and numbers.
Stealing again topped the list of St. Clair Police Department reports generated in 2012. In fact, the top three types of reports remained the same from 2011 to last year as motor vehicle accidents and domestic assaults again finished second and third, respectively.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic on the list generated by Chief Bill Hammack, however, was that suicide threats more than doubled, increasing from 20 to 43 in comparing the last two calendar years. There were 15 actual suicide attempts in both years with two suicides in 2012 and one in 2011.
Overall, the number of generated reports decreased last year by 24 — from 1,713 to 1,689 — but that number is misleading. In 2012, the local police department did not have enough manpower to assist the city with enforcement of code violations concerning high grass and derelict vehicles. Zero reports were generated in those two categories last year while 283 were written in 2011.
“Our reports are pretty consistent last year with the year before,” Hammack said. “Compared to recent years, 2012 was pretty typical, at least in most areas.”
Two-hundred-ninety-one stealing reports were written by St. Clair department officers in 2012, similar to the 278 number the year before. Hammack said stealing can refer to a variety of things, including home and vehicle break-ins, shoplifting, personal items missing and even prescription drug theft, which he said is on the increase.
Stealing is different than burglary, however, as 49 reports were compiled in that category. In 2011, there were 45 burglaries. There also were four robbery reports last year and one the year before that.
The 238 reported vehicle accidents within the city limits last year continues a significant downward trend in that category. In 2011, there were 268, and in the three prior years, the numbers were 302, 335 and 371, respectively. The five-year decrease figures out to be 36 percent.
“I attribute some of that (decrease) to proactive patrols,” Hammack said. “But, we really don’t know what all the reasons are for the decrease. But, it’s certainly a good thing.”
In 2011, stealing replaced vehicle accidents as the top generator of reports.
Domestic, Sex Crimes
As far as domestic assaults, the 218 reports in 2012 is slightly less than the 223 from 2011 and is close to the average number in recent years. But, Hammack said these kind of incidents happen way too often.
“The bulk of our calls are domestic related,” the chief said. “Most of them are domesticated issues.”
Making the number worse, Hammack said, is that there remain a percentage of domestic assaults that never get reported, including those sexual in nature.
“Most sex crimes are domestic situations,” Hammack said. “The victims are people who already have a relationship with the perpetrator.”
In addition to the domestic assault cases, there were seven sexual assaults, seven sexual misconducts, three rapes and two sexual abuse reports last year. Also, there were 71 misdemeanor assaults, 14 child abuse and 14 endangering the welfare of a child cases, 11 felony aggravated assaults, three child molestations, two reports of elderly abuse and three assaults on a police officer.
The rest of the top 10 categories as far as generated police reports from a year ago are fugitive arrests (174), vehicle lockouts (139), peace disturbance complaints (134), property damage reports (112), informational reports (98), drug arrests or violations (78) and animals at-large (75).
In all, Hammack said there were about 11,000 calls for service that generated 3,400 office reports. Also, there were 1,689 traffic summonses issued and 501 arrests last year.
Hammack said he contributes the rise in suicide threats, at least in part, to the three St. Clair High School student suicides that took place during the first semester last fall. The last two of those tragedies occurred on Nov. 2 and 12.
“We saw a dramatic increase there, specifically after the third high school suicide,” Hammack said. “The bulk of them (threats) were youth, and more than half were during the last two months of the year.
“Of course, each threat is unique and we take them all seriously, but I would think some cases were students reaching out for help while others were ways to get attention.”
Drug- and alcohol-related report numbers totaled 228 in 2012. The drug arrest and violation number was the highest, but there also were 57 driving while intoxicated arrests and 43 minors visibly intoxicated.
There were three methamphetamine labs discovered in the city limits last year, down from the seven reported in 2011.