2020 has revealed some interesting stats from the Riley County Police Department.
Speaking to the Riley County Commission Thursday, RCPD Director Dennis Butler says the November calls for service were down by over 500 calls from last year.
“Year to date our calls for service declines have been almost 13 percent (about 6,800 calls). When COVID hit and lockdowns basically happened and businesses were closed we saw a dramatic drop in calls for service and crimes reported,” he said.
Butler also says there are two things that drive crime and calls for service; retail activity and population.
“We had a lot of people out shopping that are usually out doing other things, that drives accident rates. Our population declined when students were sent home and there were just fewer opportunities for police to have to get involved in something that might happen,” he said.
In terms of part one crimes, which police departments report to the FBI, Butler says November specifically saw a 39 percent increase above the five year average and almost a 50 percent increase from November 2019.
“What normally drives part one crime are property crimes. In November 2019 there were 15 thefts from vehicles and this past month there were 52, almost triple that of last year,” he said.
Almost half of the vehicles targeted, he says were unlocked. That’s an especially alarming trend given the activity surrounding the holiday season with more people out shopping.
One statistic that unfortunately saw an increase was the amount of reported suicides, particularly in November.
Butler says there were seven reported suicides in November, compared to one in October.
“Percentage wise that’s a 600 percent increase. Any cases like this are sad and concerning. I don’t know what the trend is for the year, but that is concerning,” he said.
Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez was curious as to demographics of those reported suicides; whether they were male or female and what age groups they belonged to.
“People have lost their jobs and have had no other recourse,” he said.
Butler said he will bring those demographics to the next Law Board Meeting, which is scheduled for Monday at 12 p.m. Rodriguez is the current Law Board Chair.
In other business Thursday, Riley County commissioners extended the local emergency disaster declaration through April 30, 2021. The declaration has been in place since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic first presented locally.