BEND, OR -- The FBI released its annual national crime statistics this week, and Central Oregon’s two largest cities showed big drops in property crimes in 2014. But Redmond Police Lt. Mike Kidwell says increases in rape and robbery in his city are not the full picture. "Our Part I crimes are significantly down. For instance, in 2001, we had 1,648 part one crimes reported to the Redmond Police Department. In 2014, we only had 1,128." Part I crimes are those considered more severe. The FBI measures eight categories of Part I offenses: Robbery, Rape, Aggravated Assault, Murder, Burglary, Larceny/Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft and Arson.
In Bend, Lt. Clint Burleigh agrees. He says the raw numbers are only part of the story. "You may have very good successes as an organization or a group and your numbers might be a little worse. And, it’s not because you didn’t do well, there are just a lot of other factors that are tough to measure – how many visitors did we have this summer? How long were they here? How many crashes on the road did we have?"
In Redmond, violent crimes increased by less than 1%, but Lt. Kidwell disputes some of the numbers, saying how the FBI calculates the stats can be subjective and lead to skewed results. "For instance, there is an increase in robbery, but sometimes that can be a shoplifting case where the shoplifter actually pushed away from and ran away from the security officer at the store. Since force is used, that all of a sudden becomes a robbery. So, we’ll look at is that what caused an increase or do we actually have an increase. So, we’ll try to address it that way with the stores and any other way we can address it."
Redmond Police Chief Dave Tarbet talks in-depth about the numbers, on our Podcast Page
In Bend, violent crimes dropped by 60%, but Lt. Burleigh says it's important to look at the big picture. "Looking at the top 10 cities in Oregon, we’re the sixth largest city by population and, out of those 10, we have the third lowest numbers in violent crime and fourth lowest in property crime. I think that speaks a lot to our department in trying to be proactive in preventing crime and I think it speaks a lot to our officers going out there and making contacts with everybody in the community." He adds, "We look at everything and try to measure ourselves that way, but I don’t think you can just completely rely on just a number itself. I think there are so many other factors that you have to pay attention to. I think the number one thing to look at is, we had 114 violent crimes reported in 2014 - that’s at least 114 people that were impacted tremendously that year. I’d love it to be zero. If we could have zeroes across the board, I think that would be awesome." In Prineville, violent crimes fell 9%.
According to the FBI report, property crimes dropped, last year, by 6% in Bend and 11% in Redmond. In Prineville, they rose by 20% in 2014.