Janesville63.5°

Crime rates hold steady in Janesville

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 2, 2012
— One crime statistic—traffic stops—is on the rise among many holding steady in Janesville.

Janesville police made more traffic stops in 2011 than in any of the preceding four years. At the same time, violent crimes and property crimes remained steady or fell slightly.


It's probably not a coincidence that traffic stops increased while many crimes did not, Chief Dave Moore said. Traffic stops have been a priority for patrol units as a method of crime prevention, he said.


"There's a whole connection of discovering crimes while making traffic stops," Moore said.


Catching a criminal between acts prevents future crimes, he said.


He gave some hypothetical examples:


-- "You stop somebody for speeding or a taillight out, and we discover drugs. And then we learn where they bought the drugs and execute a search warrant," Moore said. "Now, you've taken down a drug house off of a burned out taillight."


-- "Somebody is out moving around in the middle of the night, and you have the screwdriver and gloves sitting in the back of the car. It might not be enough for an arrest, but now you have intelligence that somebody might be out at night committing burglaries," Moore said.


-- "You stop somebody for a seemingly simple traffic violation and find out that they're wanted.


"Traffic enforcement


doesn't just address traffic issues, it also addresses other crimes that are committed in the community."


Moore said officers make stops only if they have probable cause.


"You cannot for no cause stop somebody," he said.


Moore on Thursday released to local media his department's 2011 crime statistics. He said he was surprised to see property crimes such as burglary, theft and arson hold steady even though more children and families in Janesville are living in poverty and economic stress.


"Even though we have all those factors in our community, it's not presenting itself in an increased crime rate," Moore said.


Moore attributes the flat crime rate to the professional work of officers, many of whom volunteer to be on special teams or committees. Some focus on domestic violence intervention, gang intervention or monitoring pawnshops, Moore said.


"They don't get any extra pay," Moore said. "Just extra work."


Crime prevention is an important part of Janesville's economic development plan, Moore said.


"If we do our job well and the community is safe, businesses will come here," Moore said. "If the community is not safe, they will go somewhere else."


Some highlights of the statistics:


-- The number of property crimes including burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson declined a half percent from 2010 to 2011.


-- Violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault, decreased by 1 percent, according to department data. The decrease would have been sharper except for one instance in which good police work has increased detection of one kind of crime: felony strangulation.


In 2010, some officers were trained in detecting strangulation as part of the department's focus on domestic violence intervention. In addition, members of the domestic violence intervention team meet with victims in the days following a violent incident. This has resulted in better, more complete reports, Moore has said.


Reports of felony strangulation are categorized as aggravated assaults rather than misdemeanor batteries and are among the reasons reports of aggravated assault increased from 100 to 115 between 2010 and 2011, Moore said.


-- In addition to domestic violence, Moore lists intoxicated driving as one of the biggest threats to public safety in Janesville. Police reported 340 intoxicated driving citations in 2011 compared to 318 in 2010.



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