If there’s safety in numbers, then it’s possible to feel an enhanced sense of security on the day when the St. Joseph Police Department releases its annual report on crime statistics.
It’s the day when the public’s perception of crime runs into the reality of what the numbers say. These Part I crime statistics don’t sugarcoat the problem, but they put it into context.
The report, released in February, showed an overall decrease in index crimes in St. Joseph. These are the eight categories of serious property and violent offenses that the FBI uses to compile its annual crime index.
And yet St. Joseph is not immune to crime. The police department reports that motor vehicle thefts were up 5% in 2022, a trajectory that gets a modifier of “only.” (Our word, not theirs). Try telling that to the 421 people who experienced the aggravation of a vehicle theft last year.
Speaking of aggravating, the increase in aggravated assaults was described as “nothing huge.” (Their words, not ours). Try telling that to the 335 people who experienced this crime in 2022. In addition, it’s also worth noting that 2023 isn’t exactly off to a stellar start, with the 44 aggravated assaults in January reflecting a 120% increase to begin the year compared to the same month last year.
But at least St. Joseph is safer than the big cities, where a political backlash is beginning to surface for officials who appear soft or tone-deaf on crime.
In Chicago, the incumbent mayor was voted out of office. In Missouri, the Republican attorney general wants to remove St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner after a teenager suffered critical injuries in a car accident. The suspect in that case had earned 54 violations for failing to comply with pre-bond conditions. If you think this is a partisan issue, consider the Democratic mayor’s tepid defense of Gardner.
In the nation’s capital, President Joe Biden said he won’t veto a crime bill that prevents Washington, D.C. from weakening that city’s criminal code. The far left accused Biden of “attacking democracy,” but those are the strong words of elites who probably live in gated communities. Those who live in poor, high-crime neighborhoods might view things in more practical terms.
Thankfully, St. Joseph is not Chicago or Washington, D.C. The numbers back this up. However, if you feel unsafe walking across the parking lot at night, then it doesn’t matter what the statistics say. Perception becomes reality.
A good rule of thumb for political leaders and the next chief of police in St. Joseph is that if the public thinks that crime is a problem, then crime is a problem.
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