FRANKFORT – For decades now, Kentucky State Police has annually compiled a comprehensive look at crime across the commonwealth, giving the public and law enforcement alike a much clearer picture of the challenges we face.
The reports come out each summer and pull together data from local and state agencies, highlighting both short- and long-term trends. A comparison of 2014 with 1995, for example, shows that DUIs have dropped significantly – from 33,000 then to 22,500 last year – but that drug offenses have sky-rocketed, growing from less than 18,000 to more than 58,000.
Changes between 2014 and 2013 are less pronounced in many ways, but there are some major differences there as well. In just a year’s time, prostitution cases went down 20 percent, but non-forcible rape offenses went up 64 percent. Arson cases declined by 11 percent, but robberies rose by 28 percent. While the number of cases is still relatively small, bribery offenses jumped almost 600 percent.
According to the report, there were more than 21,000 burglaries last year. These thieves stole more than $35 million worth of property, averaging $2,100 per incident. While we often think of this as a night-time crime, the truth is – for our homes, at least – this is about twice as likely to happen in the daytime, when we’re away at work and school.
The value of the vehicles stolen last year – 13 a day on average – was about the same as the amount stolen in burglaries. There were 2,500 robberies, meanwhile, including a half-million dollars taken from our banks.
When it comes to charging those responsible for the crimes, the violent cases have a much higher success rate, with 50 percent being cleared. Property crimes, meanwhile, are solved about a quarter of the time.
In breaking down arrests, the most recent KSP report found that while men dominate in virtually all categories, women draw close in forgeries, fraud and theft. Among different age groups, a greater number of those 17 and younger was charged with assault last year than those 18 to 20. On the flip side, 18- to 20-year olds were charged with murder almost as much as those in their thirties.
Beyond focusing on individual crime data, these reports also include broader information on such criminal justice matters as drugs and domestic violence.
This shows us that cocaine, meth, marijuana and opiate drugs like heroin are the basis for less than half of our drug arrests. Most of the rest center on mis-use of prescription and other synthetic drugs.
On the positive side in this category, the number of meth labs continues to decline. After topping 1,000 for several years around the turn of the decade, they are now inching down toward 500.
According to information provided by the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, the number of domestic-violence victims housed in Kentucky’s 15 shelters has also shrunk, going from 4,150 in 2013 to 2,570 last year. About 1,600 were still turned away at least temporarily last year, but that was almost half of the total turned away in 2013.
Another positive finding in the report is that no law enforcement officer lost his or her life last year while on duty. Nevertheless, nearly 900 were attacked, and 357 were injured.
All told, there are more than 8,300 full-time law enforcement officers in Kentucky and another 2,300 who support them in civilian roles. That relatively small number – about two-tenths of one percent of our population – provides watch over our lives every hour of every day throughout the year.
They are a key reason why Kentucky remains one of the safest states in the nation. The latest proof of that came in January, when the website “24/7 Wall St.” said we had the fifth-lowest violent crime rate. That was much better than such states as Tennessee, which had the fourth-highest rate.
As always, I am interested in your thoughts on this and other issues. If you would like to contact me, you can address correspondence to Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601; or you can email me at Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov.
To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.