There is some good news to report as we take a look at Madison's crime numbers from this past year, 2012. The big picture is our crime numbers dropped 3.4 percent when compared to 2011.
We saw significant decreases in several key crime categories: assault, homicide, motor vehicle theft, fraud, and robbery. However, as is usually the case, when we look at yearly crime numbers, some categories also went up in 2012: aggravated assaults, sex offenses, damage to property and burglary all ticked up, with sex offenses jumping the most.
Here are the numbers for crimes currently known to our department:
- Homicide: 2012= 3 (2011=6)
- Assault: 2012=1,173 (2011 = 1,486)
- Aggravated Assault: 2012= 532 (2011=449)
- Sex Offenses –Forcible: 2012 = 228 (2011=184)
- Sex Offenses – Non-Forcible: 2012 = 79 (2011=76)
- Theft: 2012 = 6,168 (2011 = 6,440)
- Damage to Property: 2012 = 2,426 (2011 = 2,236)
- Burglary: 2012 = 1,595 (2011 = 1,446)
- Fraud: 2012 = 904 (2011 = 1,147)
- Motor Vehicle Theft: 2012 = 260 (2011 = 351)
- Robbery: 2012 = 246 (2011 = 272)
The largest increase came in the Forcible Sex Offenses category: a nearly 24 percent spike. However when we look at the 2010 number for this category, which is 209, the increase is not as statistically significant. Still, it is clear the number of reported sex offenses is up. We are in the midst of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I asked Kelly Anderson, executive director for the Dane County Rape Crisis Center, her thoughts on what we are seeing. She says our numbers mirror what her agency has been experiencing:
"The Rape Crisis Center has also seen a significant increase in crisis services. We always hope that such an increase represents improved awareness of our free, 24-hour services, rather than higher rates of sexual assault. In 2012, RCC advocates provided 438 accompaniments for victims to the hospital or police station, up from 406 the previous year and a substantial increase over the past average of 360 to 380 per year.
Over the past five years, calls to the 24-hour crisis line (608-251-RAPE) have increased nearly 50% -- from an average of 1,500 annually to over 2,200 in 2011 and 2012. We always encourage anyone seeking support or wondering what their options are to connect with the crisis line, where they can ask questions and determine what their best options are. We respect every victim's right to decide whether to report to law enforcement or seek services in the aftermath of a sexual assault."
I thank Kelly for her insight.
Crime numbers represent one way to get a pulse on our community; however, I firmly believe public safety is never adequately reflected in numbers alone.
There are serious issues that continue to grip the greater Madison area, continue to threaten our public safety. Many can be connected to three groups: opiate addicted individuals, gang involved young people, and repeat criminal offenders.
From our patrol and neighborhood officers, to our specialized units, like the Crime Prevention & Gang Unit, and the Special Investigations Unit, the MPD continues to work hard to turn lives around, and to hold law breakers responsible for their actions.
We cannot succeed without your help. Community based policing is a partnership, and I believe, here in Madison, we will continue to work well together.