Ames crime rate decreases slightly

Ted Sics

Statistics compiled by the Ames Police Department indicate that Ames’ overall crime rate, based on the annual number of arrests, decreased slightly from 2009 to 2010.

According to the report, a total of 2,950 arrests were made in 2009. In 2010, 2494 arrests were made.

Alcohol violations were the most common offense, followed by theft and vandalism. The number of reported sexual assaults dropped from 66 to 54. There have been no homicides since 2008.

Cmdr. Jim Robinson of the Ames police said there are multiple explanations for crime rate variance. Random fluctuation is to be expected.

“What we’re more concerned about is a trend — is it something we start seeing from year to year? Is there something out of the average?” Robinson said. “There maybe could be extra events occurring within our community. For example, every other year you have the Iowa/Iowa State game, and more activity correlates to more arrest. That could have more impact on the statistics.”

Since official crime figures are based only on reported cases and actual arrests, they may underrepresent the true incidence of crimes such as sexual assault.

The Ames Police Department’s “safe neighborhood teams” help prevent crime, Robinson said.

“They’ve taken over activities that our older party response teams were involved in,” Robinson said. “Their focus is community involvement.”

For example, the teams might explain noise ordinances to party hosts so they aren’t charged with disturbing the peace, Robinson said.

“They also reach out to the neighborhood associations to provide talks,” he said.

“We also work with the Iowa State University police department and the Story County sheriff’s office,” Robinson said. “When we have a serious crime in our community, such as a homicide, we will team our investigators up with the department of criminal investigation.”

“It’s really important to develop those relationships and build them throughout the years,” he said.

The Ames police is quick to respond to distress calls.

“We have officers that are positioned in different zones or patrol areas throughout the community,” Robinson said. “Once a call is received by our officers, it’s within a matter of seconds to minutes that they will be able to respond and arrive on the scene.”

Ames police officers are required to stay up-to-date on criminal investigation techniques.

“Training is very, very important, and our investigators within the criminal investigation division receive intensive and advanced training in homicide investigation, interviews and interrogations, robbery, domestic abuse training and child abuse training,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that crime prevention “has to be a cooperation between the residents and our officers.” He suggested that all citizens help by locking their cars and houses and keeping their garage doors down at night.

Statistics for the first half of 2011 were not available.