Criminal charges jump 18 percent in 2012
The number of charges for DUI and sexual offenses in Parker skyrocketed last year, but police say it’s the result of more proactive enforcement.
The Parker Police Department released year-over-year crime statistics as part of its Annual Report for 2012, and charges for sexual offenses rose nearly 52 percent, from 83 in 2011 to 126. The number of counts filed for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs went up almost 76 percent, from 161 in 2011 to 283 in 2012.
Laurie Milord, crime analyst for the Parker police, said the department’s aggressive approach to taking down online predators, via its Internet Crimes Against Children unit, has resulted in more charges being filed against alleged perpetrators.
“Most cases resulted in three or four charges per case, so that’s why it went up significantly,” Milord said. “And it will continue to go up in that category because the FBI changed its definition of sexual assault, so more cases will fall under that category.”
Similarly, grant funding has enabled Parker police to beef up DUI patrols and checkpoints, causing the sharp increase in the category.
Milord cautioned that the figures can be deceiving because they reflect the number of charges filed with the district attorney’s office, not the number of incidents that took place. The department uses a tally of incidents internally to guide decision-making.
Sgt. Chris Peters, who leads the department’s investigations unit, said the crime stats affect strategic planning by highlighting “hot-button issues” to which command staff can shift more resources. When there is a marked increase in one category over a prolonged period, officials can decide whether to reassign detectives or implement more training for patrol officers to address the problem.
The down-to-the-detail statistics can be “instrumental” in day-to-day operations, Peters says, because Milord has the ability to discuss with each patrol shift trends pertaining to specific days and times that crimes normally occur.
While the number of overall charges went up 18 percent over 2011, there were some bright spots in the report. Robberies have continued to decline since 2008, and there were nominal decreases in burglary and fraud charges last year. Crimes that are not classified as a “part one” offense, like vandalism, drug offenses and trespassing, were not listed in the report.
Numbers in some categories are so low that a slight change can result in significant fluctuations in the percentage, making it appear that something is awry. For example, the “homicide or attempted homicide” category went up 100 percent in 2012. But there was one murder in 2011 — the shooting death of Parker resident Donna Royer by her estranged husband in the parking lot of McDonald’s at South Parker Road and Mainstreet — compared with two attempted-homicide charges stemming from a Dec. 31, 2012, incident in which a woman in the Clarke Farms neighborhood allegedly shot her ex-boyfriend.
A few statistics, however, are black and white, like the drastic drop in the number of speeding tickets issued, from 2,415 two years ago to just 1,311 in 2012. Peters said traffic citations were “down across the board” because of a personnel shortage resulting from military leaves, officer injuries and a departure. He said there has not been a change in philosophy regarding traffic safety and enforcement.
Large year-to-year statistical variations are rare, and the department’s decision-makers often rely on several years’ worth of data to spot trends. One thing Milord has noticed: Population growth is actually outpacing the crime rate expected for the number of people moving into Parker.
The largest fluctuations occur over a period of months and reflect seasonal crimes. Burglaries, for instance, tend to increase in the late summer months because it stays light outside later, homeowners keep doors and windows open, and families go on vacation.
Criminal charges filed in Parker in 2012
Homicide (or attempted homicide): 2
Motor vehicle theft: 29
Sex offense: 126