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Earlier this month, and continuing a trend dating back to the late 1980s, the Kentucky State Police issued its annual report on crime in Kentucky, giving us a much clearer picture of the impact these actions have had on our citizens.
In one sense, the numbers from 2011 are positive when compared to earlier crime reports. When measured against 1995, there were 50 fewer homicides, 6,000 fewer burglaries and almost 5,000 fewer DUIs last year even in the face of population gains, while auto thefts and robberies were almost half of what they had been.
Overall, a serious crime took place about every three minutes last year. About 50 percent of those were thefts, burglaries and assaults; a fifth were drug offenses; and a tenth were tied to vandalism.
Property crimes - like thefts and arson - outnumbered violent crimes by almost three to one. They were much tougher to solve, too; only a fifth were cleared, versus half of the violent crimes.
No crime in the report is more serious than homicide, and last year there were 223 of them. Almost 40 of those came about after an argument, 25 occurred when another felony crime was involved and another 25 came about as a result of domestic violence. Eight were considered justifiable, and none were gang related.
In addition to the human costs caused by serious crimes, the state police report adds up the financial losses as well. Thieves, for example, stole $160 million last year, of which $22 million was recovered. Money, not surprisingly, was the leading item taken, but jewelry and autos were dominate as well. In terms of total cases, shoplifting made up about three-fourths of those investigated.
Burglars, meanwhile, took $44.4 million from our homes and businesses last year. While we may think of break-ins as predominantly a night-time activity, the truth is - for our homes, at least - they are about twice as likely during the day, when we’re at work. On average, each break-in accounted for about $2,000 in losses.
With 7,000 fewer court orders issued last year in domestic violence situations than in 2010, there appears to be positive strides being made in this area. Still, more than 4,000 women and children, plus 24 men, sought shelter in one of the 15 state-funded spouse abuse centers last year. There were also 25,000 who received other services from the shelters for such things as counseling and legal aid.
In breaking all of this data down further, the state police report gives us some interesting insights on those caught by the police. For instance, there were more 16-year-olds charged with assaults than 17-year-olds last year, and more 15-year-olds were caught vandalizing property than either 16- or 17-year-olds.
As for adults, drug offenses were much more common among those in their late 20s and early 30s than any other age group, and the same goes for thefts as well. Men dominated every category of serious crimes, but women were not too far behind when it came to thefts.
These annual reports offer a lot of information to digest, but they give us a clear idea of what is faced by the 7,400 men and women who put on the uniform every day for our protection and the 2,100 civilian employees who help run our law enforcement offices. Without all of them doing their jobs, none of us could do ours.
As always, I am interested in knowing what you think, either about this issue or any other affecting state government. I hope to hear from you soon.
Rick Rand, D-Bedford, represents the 47th House District in the Kentucky General Assembly. He may be reached by writing to Room 367, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601, or leave a message at (800) 372-7181 – TTY (800) 896-0305.