Escalon is catching up with the rest of the state in terms of property crimes … and that has helped drive up the city’s overall crime rate.
Also from 2016 to 2017, said Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges, the actual number of Part One crimes reported in the city rose from 226 to 253.
“Overall we experienced a 12 percent increase in Part One crimes,” the chief said.
Those crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. Five of the categories saw increases in 2017.
Those rising were aggravated assault, up to 30 reported cases in 2017 from 21 in 2016; burglary rose to 47 cases from 29, larceny was up to 109 from 96; auto theft rose to 20 reported cases, up from 15; and there were three reported arsons in the city in 2017, up from two in 2016.
“In contrast to last year, we saw a decrease in our violent crimes overall, though, at 12 percent, with only the aggravated assaults showing an increase of 43 percent overall for the year,” Borges noted in a report to the Escalon City Council at the Tuesday night, Feb. 20 council meeting.
The city recorded one murder in both 2016 and 2017, with three rapes reported in 2017, down from seven in 2016. Robbery was also down, with just one reported in 2017 as compared to three in 2016. Simple assaults dropped to 39 from the 2016 reported number of 52.
“Unfortunately,” Borges added, “we caught up with the trend in many parts of California with higher property crimes in 2017.”
Property crimes in general were up 26 percent.
Borges noted that the statewide trend has been to not aggressively prosecute what are considered the ‘lesser’ property crimes, such as burglary. However, he said, in one case locally, one suspect was connected to break-ins of seven vehicles in the city, with property taken from the majority of those break-ins.
“Seven different people were victimized,” he said, adding that the victims don’t consider the loss of their property a ‘lesser’ crime and the local police department will continue to make arrest in those cases when possible.
“We will enforce the laws, try to bring people victimizing our citizens to justice,” he said.
Total incidents for the department declined slightly from year to year, with 12,332 calls in 2016 falling to 11,805 in 2017, a four percent drop. Incidents covered calls for service, officer initiated contacts, traffic stops, building checks and more. Reports generated by officers were up four percent, rising to 1,171 in 2017 from 1,127 in 2016.
In terms of arrests, the total of misdemeanor and felony arrests was down three percent, with 293 arrests in 2017, a drop from the 303 in 2016. Officers, however, were still busy on any given day.
“In 2017, officers were handling approximately 13 calls for service and 19 officer-initiated incidents a day,” said the chief. “Our personnel were busy documenting incidents at a higher rate this year versus 2016.”
The year also saw the loss of some full time staff members to other departments, with the chief having to shift some personnel and recruit additional officers.
“Our fulltime detective (Anthony Hardgraves) has had to take on patrol duties,” Borges said of keeping all shifts covered. “March 5 we will be swearing in one more full time officer.”
Also coming on board is another reserve officer. The chief noted that the current reserve officers continue be “very active” and in the past year served over 4,000 hours with the department. Volunteers also help to supplement the ranks.
Highlights for the year included the arrival of a Zero motorcycle for use on patrols and the approval of the department’s UAS – Unmanned Aerial System – commonly known as a drone, for use and that went into service in December.
Looking ahead, Borges said the department will continue with its community oriented policing model and be proactive in its duties as officers work to keep residents and the community safe.