It’s typical for crime numbers to fluctuate from year to year, but despite increases in certain violent crimes, the St. Joseph Police Department saw a general decrease in reported crime in 2021.
According to a summary from the department and St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally, the number of incident-based reported crime in 2021 showed a slight decrease. In 2021, 3,550 crimes were reported, compared to 4,257 in 2020.
Connally said nonviolent crimes like burglary and motor vehicle theft saw major decreases.
“We’ve had 337 burglaries, that’s the lowest number since the 1990s. And when you compare that, our higher years and burglaries are usually in the 900s. So that’s a significant decrease that we look to hope to maintain our robberies,” Connally said.
While seeing crime numbers decrease is a good thing, Connally said it’s important to remember even with decreases, each number is a crime against a victim.
One increase in reporting was rape. Connally said due to expanding reporting options to be anonymous, they’re not necessarily attributing the increase to an increase in incidents.
“Rape is something that’s traditionally underreported. ... Our hope is people are taking advantage of getting those reported. These situations are almost exclusively intimate partners or between people that they know, sometimes it’s within families,” Connally said. “Those are always challenges. Even with that being up, if you go back over the last years, that’s actually still one of our lower years with the last two being the lowest years in a long time.”
In 2021, St. Joseph saw eight murders, many of which centered around gun violence. This was a large increase from three in 2020. Connally said while murder is one of the hardest crimes to prevent, they hope people in the community will help them tackle the problem.
“It’s really a matter of when people know there’s a conflict, taking action, whether that’s what the police, whether that’s with mental health intervention, taking action before it escalates, or when there’s a threat or something like that, reporting it to the police because we’ve had cases where threats were made and other actions were taken, and they never reported to the police. And then they finally call the police when somebody has been shot,” he said.
Connally said he attributes many decreases to partnerships in the community and his staff. The department has imbedded victim advocates and mental health liaisons that he said have made a big difference.