April 24, 2009


The City of Madison experienced a drop in all Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) categories, except one, during the first quarter of 2009.

In terms of percentages, some declines were significant: Murder down 100%, Forcible Rape down 33.3%, Aggravated Assaults down 30.9 %, Burglaries down 52.8%, Stolen Autos/Trucks down 39.3%, Robberies down 9.6%. The only increase was in the Theft: up 2.9%.

" Anytime we have favorable UCR numbers, generally the credit goes to police officers in the field, citizens in the community, and the coordinated efforts of Command Staff," said Noble Wray, Madison Police Chief.

He encouraged citizens to remember, when looking at data, that it is early in the year, and any category could dramatically change in the next three quarters, depending on crime patterns. Additionally, Chief Wray cautioned UCR data alone does not give a good representation of Madison's overall level of safety.

The following shows January - March UCR data for the past several years:

1. Murder: 2006 = 0 2007 = 0 2008 = 2 2009 = 0
2. Forcible Rape: 2006 = 15 2007 = 11 2008 = 15 2009 = 10
3. Aggravated Assault: 2006 = 96 2007 = 83 2008 = 110 2009 = 76
4. Robbery: 2006 = 92 2007 = 69 2008 = 83 2009 = 75
5. Burglary: 2006 = 343 2007 = 371 2008 = 517 2009 = 244
6. Stolen Autos/Trucks/Cycles: 2006 = 108 2007 = 104 2008 = 117 2009 = 71
7. Larceny (Theft): 2006 = 1297 2007 = 1157 2008 = 1156 2009 = 1190

While theft numbers were up slightly, other categories present reason for some cautious optimism.

Burglaries were down significantly, thanks in part to coordinated, countywide efforts of the Blue Net Task Force. Its mission has been bolstered with vigilant patrol officer work, and guidance from new crime analysts. They identify when and where police resources might be best utilized. Alert citizens also helping greatly in getting needed tips and information to the MPD.

Similar cooperation, crime analysis, and resource allocation has had a direct impact on resolving several pattern robbery cases.

It is worth noting: The downward trend in robbery numbers maybe tied to the dip in aggravated assaults - as many robberies involve aggravated assaults.
UCR data is what law enforcement agencies are required to supply to the federal government, and while it is helpful in identifying trends, Chief Wray said the data has limitations:

• It doesn't track key crimes like domestic violence.
• It doesn't account for unreported crime.
• It doesn't list many "quality of life" crimes like noise, trespass, and speeding.
• It doesn't provide insight into citizens' perception of crime, or satisfaction with police services.
• It doesn't show activities on the part of citizens that help reduce or eliminate crime.
• It doesn't recognize data-driven problem-solving efforts taken by MPD.

Chief Wray said UCR data is also most beneficial when analyzed over much longer time periods than just a three-month snapshot. All that said, the numbers are very good, particularly when considering the plight of other communities where UCR numbers are on the rise.

Many are living in troubled economic times, and while Madison maybe more recession proof than some cities, there is still the very real possibility that Madison will experience more crime related to the financial downturn.

Certainly - as the UCR data indicates -thefts are up, with laptop computers, and other electronics, frequently being prime targets of thieves, and burglars. The MPD will be paying close attention to this situation, and others that may crop up over the year, with an eye on developing additional cooperative strategies.

  • Joel DeSpain, (608) 266-4897