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CrimeTracker 15: Madison Crime Numbers Fall in 2011

Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012 --- 1:13 p.m.

Information from the Madison Police Department:

All but 3 major crime categories were down in 2011. As a result: crime in Madison dropped 9.3% last year.

However, despite favorable numbers, Chief Noble Wray emphasized there are several community safety issues not adequately reflected in crime data.

"One primary area of concern, as we move deeper into 2012, is how to better impact, in positive ways, the lives of some of our disenfranchised young people," said Chief Wray. "When we don't provide help and hope, we see a rise in the number of crimes committed by those who are lagging behind. We need to better address youth violence and gang violence, and I'm pleased to see the community entering into this dialogue by taking a hard look at root cause issues like the achievement gap."

The MPD has initiated new efforts to help criminals choose positive lifestyles through the formation of two units in the last couple of years: the Crime Prevention & Gang Unit, and the Special Investigations Unit. In addition, Chief Wray said the important work of patrol officers cannot be overlooked, as they often are the ones who make a difference in the daily lives of Madisonians.

A second ongoing concern is the heroin epidemic. Chief Wray successfully pushed for a community wide response to the health crisis, which drives-up numbers in several crime categories to include: thefts, burglaries, and robberies. Recently, the MPD spearheaded a new ordinance that will make it easier for officers to track stolen items sold to secondhand dealers like pawn shops.

As for the recently released numbers, here is a breakdown of crimes known to the MPD for 2010 versus those reported in 2011:

Simple Assault: 1,596 for 2010 - 1,486 for 2011
Aggravated Assault: 501 for 2010 - 449 for 2011
Sex Offenses/Forcible: 209 for 2010 - 184 for 2011
Sex Offenses/Non-Forcible: 82 for 2010 - 76 for 2011
Homicide: 2 for 2010 - 6 for 2011
Theft: 6,289 for 2010 - 6,440 for 2011
Damage to Property: 2,305 for 2010 - 2,236 for 2011
Burglary: 1,652 for 2010 - 1,446 for 2011
Fraud: 1,108 for 2010 - 1,147 for 2011
Motor Vehicle Theft: 377 in 2010 - 351 in 2011
Robbery: 333 in 2010 - 272 in 2011

It is difficult to compare 2011 and 2010 numbers with previous years, and that's because the way in which the MPD counts crimes changed dramatically in 2010. The department moved away from the traditional Summary Based Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR) to National Incident-Based Reporting (NIBRS). NIBRS provides the department with much more valuable information for analysis, but comparing NIBRS data with old UCR data is not easy. For instance, under UCR, only the most serious offense stemming from a crime was counted. If there was a robbery where the victim was also battered, the crime would be recorded once. With NIBRS, that same crime will show up in the burglary numbers and in the battery numbers. More information on the two methodologies can be found on the National Institute of Justice's website:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/ucr-nibrs.htm


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