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Sheriff reports on crime trends

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Ted Sullivan
December 29, 2009
— More crimes against children were committed in 2008 compared to 2007, according to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office annual report.

Detectives investigated 32 child sexual assault cases in 2008, compared to 16 the previous year.


They also investigated 25 child physical abuse cases in 2008, compared to seven the previous year.


The sheriff’s office is responsible for law enforcement in areas of Rock County not covered by city and town police.


More crimes against children were among many highlights in the annual report released last week. Other highlights included fewer traffic fatalities, a smaller Rock County Jail population and a higher clearance rate of criminal cases.


The increase in child abuse could be because people are more aware of the problem and empowered to report it, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.


Family changes such as layoffs also could lead to more child abuse, although a direct relationship is not known, he said.


Sexual abuse could have increased because of the Internet and the availability of online pornography, Spoden said.


Viewers of online child pornography might be acting out fantasies, he said.


The sheriff’s office has trained detectives to investigate child sexual crimes, Spoden said.


The sheriff’s office also has joined the Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, he said.


Fewer people died in traffic accidents in Rock County in 2008.


Thirteen people died in 12 accidents, the lowest number in five years, according to the report.


Fewer traffic deaths is a trend nationwide, partially because the economy and gas prices have caused people to travel less, Spoden said.


The sheriff’s office also has beefed up traffic patrol in hopes to reduce injury accidents and fatalities, he said. Grants have helped the sheriff’s office be more proactive on the roads.


The detective bureau also solved a higher percentage of its cases in 2008 compared to 2007, according to the report.


The bureau cleared 46 percent of its cases in 2008, compared to 35 percent the previous year.


The reason the clearance rate increased was because several new detectives had time to gain experience, train and work together, Spoden said.


The detectives took over for more experienced investigators who retired, and the clearance rate temporarily dropped, he said. The rate has now returned to expectations.


The jail’s average daily inmate population dropped to 579 in 2008 compared to 581 in 2007, according to the report. The admission of inmates also decreased to 7,671 in 2008 from 7,920 the previous year.


Alternative programs such as electronic monitoring and Workenders can be credited for the decreases, Spoden said.


The electronic monitoring program had 602 admissions in 2008 compared to 463 the previous year, according to the report. The average daily number of inmates on electronic monitoring jumped to 83 from 65 during those years.


Rock County Drug Court also has helped reduce the jail’s inmate population because of less recidivism, Spoden said.



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