Cape crime rate down, calls for service up
The majority of reported crimes in Cape Coral dropped in 2010, despite a jump in calls for service and cuts to overtime at the police department.
A report recently released by the Cape police compares end-of-year figures for 2010 to those from 2009. Crime decreased in all categories recorded in the report, except for sex offenses. There were 17 in 2009 compared to 22 last year — a 29 percent jump.
Lt. Anthony Sizemore, spokesman for the department, said the percentage increase for sex offenses appears high, but the figures are not statistically significant taken in the context of the actual number reported that year.
“In the course of an entire year, to have five additional reported crimes than you would over the last year,” he said. “It’s not as significant.”
Last year aggravated assaults dropped from 220 to 188, robberies tumbled from 92 to 64 and burglaries decreased from 1,267 to 1,085. Motor vehicle thefts dropped from 174 to 109, and larcenies dipped from 2,792 to 2,596.
“We are encouraged by the positive trend,” interim Police Chief Jay Murphy said.
According to the report, there were three homicides last year and all were manslaughters. Manslaughter is homicide without malice or premeditation. In 2009, there were three homicides reported. Two were classified as manslaughters.
Sizemore attributed the drop in crime to department tactics.
“We constantly evaluate and re-evaluate, tool, adapt and adjust,” he said. “It’s a constant evaluation and reallocation of our resources to make sure we’re in the best position.”
Community and citizen involvement also plays a part.
“Working together enables us to solve these crimes,” Sizemore said.
While nearly all reported crimes fell, calls for service saw an increase in 2010. The report shows that there were 82,797 calls from residents — a 1.6 percent over 2009. There was a 2.3 percent increase in the number of police initiated calls — 106,572 compared to 104,221.
“The demand for service is there and still climbing,” Sizemore said.
Still, overtime and compensated hours dropped in 2010 for the agency. The operations division saw a 26.8 percent decrease, with 10,658 hours clocked over 14,564 in 2009. Specifically, patrol recorded a 19.9 percent decrease in hours and special operations marked a 44.5 percent drop.
The support services division also saw a decrease, according to the report. There were 14,997 hours recorded in 2009 compared to 8,587 last year — a 42.7 percent decline. Investigative services had a 16.3 percent decrease and the professional standards bureau experienced a 45.6 percent drop.
Administration overtime and compensated hours tumbled 80.9 percent.
“It was a conscious effort by the department,” Sizemore said. “We recognize in tough economic times we need to maintain the same level of service in a more judicious fashion.”
Schedules were adjusted and duties consolidated, among other things.
“It wasn’t an accident,” Sizemore said. “That was on purpose.”
In 2010, there were 1,448 crimes reported in the south district of the city, or 36 percent. The central district clocked 1,378 crimes, or 33 percent, and there were 1,234 total crimes, or 31 percent, recorded in the north district.
Sizemore said when the department sees a spike in crime in one area and it maintains, then resources are reallocated to deal with the area’s problems.
“We constantly divide the workload among the three districts,” he said. “You constantly have to review and readjust as needed.”
Of the crimes reported in 2010, some with the lowest clearance rate were property crimes. Only about 22 percent of burglaries were cleared, about 24 percent of larcenies and approximately 30 percent of motor vehicle thefts.
“In property crimes, that’s not a bad percentage,” he said. “We’re actually on the high end in a lot of our clearance rates.”
According to Sizemore, the FBI reported that the national clearance rate for property crimes was 18.6 percent in 2009.
The clearance rate for arsons in Cape Coral also was low last year. Out of the nine reported, only one was cleared — 11 percent. Domestic related sex offenses had a rate of 17 percent, with only one cleared out of six reported.