By Bob Balgemann

Reporter

The federal Uniform Crime Reports are divided into two parts. The most serious offenses are Part I crimes, the less serious are listed under Part II.

When it came to the city of Belvidere in 2017, most of the Part I offenses decreased in number.

Deputy Chief Shane Woody walked Mayor Mike Chamberlain and aldermen through a myriad of numbers and descriptions of various programs during the Feb. 5 city council meeting.

He led off by saying he went over reports to see if any numbers jumped out at him. ‘Robberies’ was one of those categories, with three cases in 2016 compared to 24 in 2017. Those 24 cases were also considerably more than in 2015 when the number was 14; in 2014, when it was 12; and in 2013, when it was three.

So the question was, why?

The deputy chief explained it was primarily due to a change in the way the federal government had municipalities document those statistics. If there was one robbery and five victims, that single offense actually counted as five. “So, that’s why it’s as high as it is,” he said.

“Now, this one,” he continued, looking at the number of drug arrests, which decreased substantially. There were 107 arrests in 2017 compared with 334 in 2016; 430 in 2015; 485 in 2014; and 349 in 2013.

His research said that happened because of the way the city now charges people who possess marijuana of less than 10 grams. “They’re now just citations and not arrestable offenses,” he said. “So we had an additional 371 cannabis citations.”

Alderman Dan Snow wondered if those who were cited came in and paid their fines.

“Yes, they will come in,” Woody replied. “If they do the ticket will be removed from their record in six months. Otherwise, it won’t.”

Alderman Mark Sanderson, an addictions counselor, said he was surprised to see the small number of heroin cases, but added quickly that he was glad about that. He also thought cocaine was dying out, but saw a lot of them referenced in the Belvidere numbers.

Woody said he talked with a Belvidere narcotics detective who told him they are still seeing a lot of cocaine in this area. “Obviously, there’s heroin in and around our jurisdiction,” he added. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is still seeing large amounts of heroin. But here it’s primarily cocaine.”

Pornography

The number of pornography cases also increased dramatically, from five in 2016 to 25 last year. Research showed if there is one arrest involving multiple cases, those cases are added to the total.

Belvidere has a detective assigned to Internet Crimes Against Children, a federal program run through the state. Anytime there’s something of a child pornography nature in the city, that individual will be called. He in turn will pass it along to the appropriate jurisdiction.

“A lot of this has to do with juveniles and the messages they pass through their cell phones,” the deputy chief said.

In other Part I offenses the city did not experience any homicides in 2017. It has been three years since the last one. Assaults decreased from 241 in 2016 to 204 last year. And the 204 is the lowest in five years as there were 225 in 2015, 259 in 2014 and 225 in 2013.

There were 72 burglaries (breaking and entering) of homes and garages, up from 53 the year before and 59 in 2015. But there were 114 in 2014, highest during this five-year span of time. Larceny, primarily instances of shoplifting and theft from a motor vehicle, totaled 301, compared with 266 in 2016 and 183 in 2015.

Those numbers prompted Chief Noble to comment: “What drives the crime rate in this city – specifically residential burglaries – is probably 80 percent of the time they broke into that house or that garage to

For complete article, pick up the Feb. 25 Belvidere Daily Republican.