The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 21, 2012

Police: Big crime rate increase false

Recent high-profile cases may make public perceive a jump in crime, but it’s not reality

OTTUMWA — Despite recent felony arrests being discussed by residents and reported in the media, the crime rate isn’t skyrocketing in Wapello County.

“There’s been several high-profile crimes,” said Ottumwa Police Department Chief Jim Clark. “When you get a number of them in one week, close together like that, even though it’s only three incidents, people think, ‘Oh my gosh, there must be more crime.’”

But that’s not the reality, he said.

In roughly a month’s time, Wapello County has seen three armed robberies, the start of a homicide investigation at an adult theater and a vandalism case with $20,000 in damage. On Tuesday, police reported they’d made a felony arrest in a sexual assault case, and the Southeast Iowa Drug Task Force announced the arrest of multiple suspects charged with manufacturing narcotics.  

Wapello County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mark Miller said that with social media like Facebook, word about those high-profile crimes spreads more quickly.

“... and everyone’s talking about them,” Miller said.

But the discussion mostly comes out of the more unusual crimes.

“No one pays attention to shoplifter [reports],” Clark said.

Miller said having the Southeast Iowa Drug Task Force in place also increases the number of sudden, large-scale arrests.

“They’ve really been working their tails off,” he said.

Those task forces are important because instead of taking call after call, the investigators focus on specific drug manufacturers, gather evidence, then put them out of business.

Wapello County Sheriff Don Kirkendall said while crime may not be increasing, the number of calls for service has jumped. People are much more likely to call the authorities these days, he said.

“You know, it’s these, too,” Miller said, pointing to his cell phone. “Everybody has one.”

Which is great, he said, when there’s an emergency. But it certainly puts more strain on the sheriff’s department when for a few citizens, every instance that’s the least bit out of the ordinary results in a call for a deputy.

All in all, Clark said, when counting the number of illegal incidents, citizens will see crime hasn’t gone up.

“What I do think is important is that with nearly all these high-profile crimes, someone has been arrested.”

And with the homicide at a downtown Ottumwa business, where there has not been an arrest, he said, they are waiting to find out the results of the autopsy; they have a possible suspect in custody on other charges.

So in general, has Ottumwa crime been creeping up?

“Over the last five years, there’s been a reduction every year,” said Clark. “Actually, 2011 was the lowest reported number of crimes since 1989, so overall, it’s been going down.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Ups and downs OTTUMWA — Iowa's governor and his lieutenant seemed thrilled with part of the employment news Friday. Gov. Terry Branstad's Twitter page said: "BREAKING: Iowa's employment reaches all-time high of 1,615,200." Iowa Workforce Development confirms the n

    April 18, 2014

  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Those who came before OTTUMWA — There is so much information on researching genealogy, beginners may not know where to start. But experts and knowledgeable amateurs will offer help as they gather for a free Family History Fair to share which websites are worthwhile and wh

    April 18, 2014

  • 0419 OTT Tree planting color photo -T -M -L Young Ottumwans show their green thumbs OTTUMWA — Several of Ottumwa’s cemeteries and parks were recipients of new trees this week as Ottumwa High School students and Eagle Scouts dedicated their time to planting dozens of trees around the city. Students from the OHS JROTC class were at Ot

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • 0419 OTT Prayer Walk 2 bw photo -L -M -T On a journey OTTUMWA — The seven blocks through the center of Ottumwa took more than an hour and a half to walk as 25 people prayed and read Scripture to reflect on the events of Good Friday. Led by the Ottumwa Area Fellowship of Pastors, the walk began at First

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0419 OTT drought map -L -T -M Drought weakens grip on Iowa OTTUMWA — Last weekend saw the first significant rains in quite some time for the Ottumwa area. How long? The last day with at least a half-inch of rain was back on Nov. 20. It was a welcome rain, arriving after the ground had thawed. That allowed at

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eugene Clark STOCKPORT — Eugene Morris Clark, 90, of Stockport, died at 5:30 p.m. April 17, 2014, at Good Samaritan Health and Rehabilitation Center, Ottumwa. Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Spencer Cemetery northeast of Stockport; Pastor Richard

    April 18, 2014

  • Civil War Round Table visited by baseball historian OTTUMWA — The Civil War Round Table was treated to a special guest Thursday night and a presentation about how baseball during the Civil War era helped shape Iowa as we know it. John Liepa, former history and political science professor at Des Moines

    April 18, 2014

  • Three-day forecast Today ... Sunny, with a high near 76. Breezy, with a southeast wind 10 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Tonight ... Partly cloudy, with a low around 53. Breezy, with a south wind 9 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Sunday ... Partly su

    April 18, 2014

  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition