Police stats reflect city's growth, not its diversity, chief finds in study.
Storm Lake police experienced an explosion in juvenile crime arrests in 2001, even as adult arrests declined to the lowest level in five years, according to an annual study released by the department Tuesday.
During 2001, there were 484 juvenile arrests, up from 289 the previous year, and far eclipsing the previous high of 317 youth arrests in 1998.
Thirty-seven juvenile arrests were for liquor law violations, 33 for theft, 30 for assault, 22 for disorderly conduct, 16 for vandalism, 14 for drugs, 10 for burglary, eight for arson, and one for sexual assault. Traffic violations accounted for 220 arrests this past year.
Adult criminal arrests showed a more positive trend. There were 3,742 adult arrests in 2001 in Storm Lake, compared to 4,080 in 2000 and the high mark of 5,697 in 1999.
Of the adult arrests, 287 were for public intoxication, 243 for liquor laws, 151 for drugs, 112 on Operating While Intoxicated. There were 122 assaults, 69 thefts, 57 disorderly conduct, 41 forgery/embezzlement cases, 16 vandalisms, 12 child endangerment cases, nine sexual assaults and one homicide. Over 2,300 traffic violations are included in the total arrests.
Of course, 2001 was a year of changing perceptions in public security both locally and nationally.
"The year 2001 brought change to our organization and challenges to the law enforcement profession that no one could have fathomed," Public Safety Director and Police Chief Mark Prosser said. "The terrorist attacks on our country spread a shock across our nation second to nothing most of our generations have ever felt."
While the attacks did not touch the midwest directly, they have caused Storm Lake and surrounding communities to change the way they prepare for the possibility of new threats. Both Storm Lake police and fire departments have responded with new training, equipment and vigilance planning, Prosser said.
Staffing was also a challenge for police during the year, with two key resignations, one officer injured and another called to active military duty. The department had to cancel the DARE education program for 2001/2002, the Citizens Academy and some public relations efforts, but there were no interruptions of protection services. Prosser said that three new officers have been hired and are being trained by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, to hit the street this spring. The injured officer has recovered and rejoined the force. After a fund drive, a new police dog was also added to the department.
After a record-setting drop in several key areas of crime in 2000, police saw a slight shift in the opposite direction for 2001. Total calls increased 5.75% to 43,681.
Rape cases rose to the highest level since 1995, with eight reports.
There was one homicide case, and no attempted murders.
There were two arson cases, compared to one in 2000.
There was one robbery case, and one kidnapping.
Robbery declined from three cases in 2000 to one in 2001, and burglary dropped from 90 to 72 cases.
There were 12 suicide attempt reports, the same as the previous year.
Stolen motor vehicles increased from 2000 at 15 cases, but is still one of the lowest numbers in recent history.
Vandalism declined from 152 in 2000 to 141 in 2001.
Check cases increased sharply to 414 reports.
Fights and disturbances declined slightly to 442 reports, and domestic disturbances fell from 136 reports in 2000 to 115 in 2001.
Assaults increased from 78 to 88.
Child abuse reports increased sharply from 20 in 2000 to 32 in 2001. The modern low was 16 reports in 1994, the high was 35 in 1998.
There were 63 missing persons cases, and 115 youth truancy calls.
Police have changed their approach to patrolling the city as well. Auto-mounted bicycle carriers allow officers to initiate increased bike patrols, which has served to increase public contacts for the officers as well as to provide a style of enforcement that some criminals haven't expected, Prosser said.
Thanks to almost $40,000 in grants, police have also added more high tech surveillance equipment over the past three years. A joint committee between police, sheriff and communications departments has resulted in a plan for a new computer software system which is now in the hands of elected officials for budget consideration.
The School Resource Officer program has been successful in reducing department calls to the schools, and the Clean Sweep program has also payed dividends in helping to voluntarily clean up nuisance properties, Prosser said.
Out of 667 people contacted by police officers with public nuisance problems, 673 voluntarily corrected the problem. The other four were cited for failing to clean up their properties.
The city's cultural diversity has had little impact on crime levels, according to his research. "The City of Storm Lake was advised officially that it had grown to over 10,000 based on the 2000 Census, and in reality we feel our minority citizens are still undercounted probably between 30 and 35 percent. This would put our population at over 11,000," Prosser wrote in his annual report. "This supports the belief our organization has had for a long time that our rising crime numbers over the last decade were more attributable to more people in our city as opposed to any particular culture's involvement in crime."