A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand
FRANKFORT – For nearly three decades now, the Kentucky State Police has annually produced a detailed report on the previous year’s crimes and arrests.
This wealth of information highlights the investigative work of the more than 8,100 sworn officers and nearly 2,200 full-time civilian employees who staff our state and local law enforcement agencies.
What they do – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – is no small task.
According to the latest report, which came out earlier this summer, they responded to about 204,000 serious crimes in 2013. That’s one every two minutes and 34 seconds on average.
The good news is that we appear to be making significant headway in reducing this figure. When compared to 2012, homicides last year were down 12 percent, burglaries declined by 13 percent and robberies dropped by almost 10 percent.
There were almost 20 percent fewer cases of forcible sex crimes like rape, but, disconcertingly, there was a steep increase in sexually related crimes not involving force, although the number of these cases is much smaller.
The report shows that property crimes outnumber violent crimes by three to one, but the ratios change when it comes to arrests; in this case, a little more than half of the violent crimes were cleared in 2013, which was more than double the success rate for property crimes. Robberies, motor vehicle thefts, and burglaries are understandably some of the toughest crimes to solve, since they are often the most anonymous.
They also are responsible for some substantial losses, too. Overall, stolen property totaled almost $150 million last year, of which less than $40 million was recovered. Vehicles, cash and jewelry were the single largest categories.
In other analysis, the KSP report found that there were more than twice as many drug violations last year than DUIs. Marijuana, meth, heroin and cocaine were responsible for close to half of the violations, with all other illegal drug use making up the remainder.
On the positive side, it appears the prevalence of meth labs is on a welcome downward trend. Last year’s 668 was about half of what we saw in 2011.
Late last month, the Office of Drug Control Policy shed further light on drug abuse when it reported that overdose deaths in 2013 were almost identical to 2012. One is too many, but this news hopefully indicates that recent efforts by the General Assembly, the Beshear administration and law enforcement are helping to keep this problem from getting worse.
Another area that has stubbornly been tough to stop is adult abuse and neglect. The KSP report found that the number of calls to report these crimes went up in 2013, as did the number of domestic violence investigations. Our 15 state-funded spouse abuse centers also saw the number of people sheltered rise slightly last year.
The General Assembly is working to help mitigate these problems. We authorized a database this year to include those found guilty of adult abuse, for example, to ensure these individuals are not hired in similar care positions in the future. We also increased spending for domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers.
In many ways, Kentucky has made significant progress when comparing last year’s crimes with their comparable numbers from a generation ago. Unfortunately, other areas, such as drug abuse, have been much harder to counteract.
Those of us in the General Assembly are always looking for ways that we can improve all of these statistics. It may be an ongoing challenge, but nothing government does is more important. With that in mind, I want to thank those who keep us safe from harm and respond when needed. These statistics would be far worse without them.
Should you have any ideas on what more the state can do, I would like to know. You can write to me at Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort KY 40601; or you can email me [email protected]
To leave a message for me or for any legislator, call toll-free at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.