Madison police offered mixed results in the department's annual crime report released Thursday. Property crime decreased last year, but violent crime increased. The department prepares the statistics for the FBI.
Shortly into 2005, Madison police took a look back at what kept them busiest last year. Police Chief Noble Wray says some high profile cases keep the central district busy. They include a shooting at the Red Caboose Day Care, the search for Audrey Seiler, the Mifflin Street block party, Halloween and a number of sexual assaults downtown.
Wray says, "Just in central district alone, in terms of case follow up, they had 744 cases that needed to be followed up on and we need people. We need bodies to do it."
Police say violent crime such as homicide, robbery and aggravated assault increased last year by nine percent, with robbery up five percent and aggravated assault up seven percent.
But reports of forcible rape led the category's overall climb.
Police say reports of forcible rape went up 52 percent, with more than 90 reported in 2004 and many of them tied to the central district. But the definition of forcible rape is narrow. It involves the rape of a woman by a man. Police say the actual number of sexual assault investigations is about 400. But more reports of forcible rape do not necessarily mean the crime is on the rise.
"In some ways an increase in reports can actually mean you as a community are doing a better job of sending the message that this is a safe place to report a sex offense or it could mean that there are more occurring," Kelly Anderson of the Rape Crisis Center says.
One high point offered by police is an 8 percent decrease in property crime, like burglary and theft.
That helped fuel an overall drop in crime citywide by six point three percent.
To break down the statistics further, calls for service in the West District increased by 13 percent throughout the last five years.
And compared to more than 30 cities of similar size, Madison ranks 8th in having the fewest violent crimes, and 5th in having the fewest property crimes.