Serious crimes decrease in county
Serious crimes—homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, assault, and theft—were down 7 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.
Assaults increased 16 percent, possibly because unemployment, foreclosures and other economic problems have led to more stress, domestic violence and fights, he said.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for law enforcement in areas of Rock County not covered by city and town police.
“Rock County is indicative of what you’re seeing across the country,” Spoden said. “Crime is on a downward trend.”
Nationwide, the crime rate is down, despite the belief the recession would boost crime.
Cmdr. Troy Knudson said people’s positive spirits have helped keep the crime rate down.
“I have been impressed with the community when you look at the situations some people are facing,” he said. “I think sometimes these hard times bring people together.”
The recession has caused people to stay home, travel less and spend less money on entertainment, Spoden said.
“That obviously is going to have an impact on crime if people aren’t on the streets,” he said.
The state also has a high incarceration rate and is holding bad guys in prison, Spoden said.
“The people that maybe would be engaged in bad behavior aren’t on the streets,” he said.
Targeted traffic enforcement and the special investigations unit also has helped reduce crime, Spoden said.
“I’m very proud of the professionalism of our deputy sheriffs,” he said.
The Janesville Police Department had a 24 percent drop in serious crimes in 2009 compared to 2008.
The crime rate could start rising again next year, but local aw enforcement agencies will be aggressive if problems arise, Spoden said.