Moffat County crime stats remain at 'status quo'

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Last year was an average year for crime in Moffat County, but a markedly above-average year in the technology sector for the sheriff's office, Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said Thursday.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Office dealt with the usual amount of criminal incidents last year, which was also the first full year the MCSO used a new, more comprehensive database to record, track and catalog crimes and cases.

"We're at status quo we are not seeing any large increase or decrease," Grinstead said. "On average, in the cyclical nature of crime in general, every year some crimes go up and some go down. I don't see such a large increase in any crimes that concerns me."

The numbers for crime in 2001 compared to 2000 are not perfectly comparable the new database has collected data so comprehensively, the raw crime data is almost incompatible with the standard National Incident Based Reporting System favored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which collects crime data nationwide.

In the most recent reports, only five Type A crimes assault, theft, fraud, drugs, sexual assault and one Type B crime driving under the influence were comparable because of the database switch. Type B crimes are generally misdemeanor offenses.

"The NIBRS system only records the most serious crime of an incident instead of every charge involved," Grinstead said. "In a burglary case, only the burglary charge is recorded, and all the other elements of the case are ignored different charges of theft in a burglary case. Now with our system, every charge from every crime is tracked."

While a comparison is difficult, it's not impossible. The two largest changes in Moffat County crime from 2000 to 2001 that are not reporting related were the decrease in drug charges and the increase in sexual assaults.

According to Grinstead and Moffat County Sheriff's Office Chief Investigator K.C. Hume, the two statistical changes are a reflection of the activities of focused units GRAMNET and the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

"As a whole, and this is not to speak for other agencies, the increase is due to having an active SART and not a spike in those crimes," Hume said. "The incidents are not increasing, but because of SART's work we are finding out about more (sexual assaults)."

The drop in drug-related crimes is because the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team (GRAMNET) handles more of the sheriff's office's drug cases.

"GRAMNET's sole focus is drugs so when we come across a drug case, we usually turn it over to them," Grinstead said. "Our office isn't doing less we're still developing information we pass on the cases to GRAMNET to allow them to work them."

The numbers concerning drug cases will also fluctuate as GRAMNET's concentration shifts from street-level dealers to large-scale distributors and back again, Grinstead said.

In respect to assaults, most victims know the assailant, and 95 percent of the cases are domestic-violence related and alcohol is a factor, Hume said.

Last year was the first full year of the department's new records management system, a more advanced and complex system that more accurately collects, sorts and compares crime-related data.

"The implementation of the new records management system allows for a more accurate accounting of crimes reported to the sheriff's office, thus allowing for better case management," Hume said. "The custom database itself is very fluid in its design it allows us to create new types of reports and view data in different formats."

The new data management system improves follow-ups with victims, and allows for better tracking of suspects, trends, how crimes are committed and criminal activity in general.

"The system is open-ended and can grow as the department needs," Hume said. "For example if you wanted to sort the information from a rash of burglaries in the county, you can use the database to identify similar circumstances or cases or even possible suspects. It's more than a file cabinet, it's an investigative tool."

The database will soon allow the sheriff's office and the Craig Police Department to share certain data concerning crimes, suspects, patterns and investigations, Hume said.

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