by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — A report released last week shows that there is growth in Walsenburg, unfortunately the rise is in the local crime rate.
In nearly every category recorded in the Walsenburg Police Department’s Annual Statistics Summary Report for 2011 an increase in criminal activity is reported.
The report was one of the items placed in city council member’s meeting packets for the Feb. 7 session and WPD Lieutenant Kurt Liebchen attended the meeting in Chief James Chamberlain’s place to answer the city council’s questions.
Council members did not go into detail with Liebchen concerning the report, indicating they would review it with Chamberlain at a future city council meeting.
Liebchen praised the work of the police department’s administrative employee, Andrea Hoegg, who compiled the report. Hoegg is also the clerk of the municipal court.
The 11-page report said crimes against people, domestic violence related crime, financial / identity theft crimes, public order crime, animal shelter service and non-criminal calls for service all increased.
There were also significant increases in the drug and alcohol offenses.
Decreases were seen in crimes against children, crimes against property, crimes involving juvenile suspects and animal control violations.
The report said areas of growing concern in 2011 included the increase in burglaries, vandalism and thefts which targeted local businesses. Other problem areas included harassment cases and a major spike in the financial and identity theft category.
Alcohol and drug related offenses had the largest increase by category in 2011 and continues to be an area of concern the report said.
Sixty-eight people were arrested by city police for DUI/DUID in 2011 and three for DWAI. Seventeen people were cited for open container of alcohol in a vehicle and minors in possession of alcohol (age range 18 to 20 years) increased from 17 cases in 2010 to 23 cases last year.
Reports of underage drinking decreased slightly with eight reports filed in 2011.
Two cases of drug manufacturing / production were recorded in 2011. There were 12 cases of possession of drugs with intent to distribute and 60 counts of possession of schedule I, II, III and IV drugs. Possession of marijuana which was counted separately from other substances was a factor in 62 cases according to the report. There were also 68 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia in 2011.
The total arrests or summons issued in drug related cases grew from 112 in 2010 to 360 in 2011.
The number of crimes against people increased from 102 in 2010 to 133 in 2011. Harassment cases doubled and there were increases in assaults, attempted murder and sexual assault.
Decreases were seen crimes against at-risk adults, menacing, stalking and vehicular assault.
Domestic violence cases increased across the board; DV assaults were up to 20 in 2011 compared to 14 in 2010. Cases of domestic violence harassment more than doubled from 2010 to 2011. A total of 58 domestic violence related crimes were reported last year.
There were 11 child abuse investigations in 2011, just one more than in the previous year. There were no reports last year however of contributing to the delinquency of a minor or enticement of a child. 2011 also saw one case of sexual assault on a child.
Burglary rates were down 12-percent according to the report with a total of 42 incidents. The report said half of the reported burglaries involving theft were made by local businesses in 2011. The jump in property crime last year was a result of criminals targeting businesses and an increase was seen in the dollar value of items stolen. In 2010, 66 percent of all theft cases involved value of property less than $500. In 2011, 39 percent of all cases of theft involved property valued at $500 or more with the most commonly stolen property being jewelry, tools, cash and electronics.