Annual report: Crime in city down again in '03

Monday, January 12, 2004
After spiking to 418 in 1998, the number of reported crimes in Marshall has steadily decreased. Last year, there were 264 reported crimes, the lowest number in the last 10 years. Larceny and burglary were the most commonly reported crimes in 2003 and the city had no reported murders or aggravated assaults.

The Marshall Police Department has released its annual report for 2003, showing that the city's overall crime decreased once again.

The report covers the crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. These crimes were chosen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for use as a uniform crime index because they collectively represent the most common local crime problems.

In 2003, there were no murders reported in the city, down from one in 2002, and no aggravated assaults, down from three in 2002. Reported forcible rapes dropped from two to one while robberies increased from none in 2002 to one in 2003. Both of 2003's reported violent crimes were solved by the police department.

Categorized as nonviolent crimes, burglary and arson both saw increases, going from 51 to 63 and zero to three, respectively. Larceny reports dropped from 221 in 2002 to 188 last year and the number of auto thefts decreased by one to eight.

The total of 264 reported crimes in the city represents a decrease of about 8 percent from the 287 reported in 2002. The decrease continues a trend which began in 1999, following a spike which saw 418 reported incidents in 1998, the highest number in the last 10 years.

"It is important to remember that crime is a social problem and a concern to the entire community," Marshall Police Chief Jim Simmerman said. "The efforts of law enforcement are limited to factors within its control."

The police department also kept busy in other areas. Officers investigated 962 nuisance ordinance violations and issued 2,405 traffic tickets, 84 of those for driving while intoxicated.

During 2003, 2,690 municipal court cases were heard, up from 2,500 the year before, and Marshall collected $190,283 in court fines. The city collected $168,700 in 2002.

After falling for two years, drug violation arrests increased in 2003. While 25 drug-related arrests were made in 2001 and 23 were made in 2002, 63 such arrests were made last year. That is the highest number of drug violation arrests since 1997, when 74 were made.

"Because of the overall harm caused by illegal drugs to society, strict enforcement of the drug laws remains a number one priority for the coming year," Simmerman said.

Following an increase to 170 in 2002, the number of adult abuse investigations fell in 2003 to 138. Officers investigating the cases identified suspects in each one, making last year the first to see a 100 percent arrest, summons or wanted rate for adult abuse investigations. By year's end, however, 12 of the identified suspects were listed as wanted but out of the city's jurisdiction.

The report also includes data on the city's animal control activities. In 2003, the Marshall Animal Shelter took in 769 live animals, 156 of which were reclaimed by their owners. Of the remainder, 458 animals were eligible for adoption. The shelter saw 216 dogs and 208 cats adopted, placing the adoption rate at 92.5 percent. The shelter's adoption rate represented a 9.5 percent increase from the year before and is a marked improvement from the 10-year low rate of 5.5 percent reported in 1995.

"Working together, the Saline Animal League and the city of Marshall have built a strong partnership toward a common goal of combating the number of neglected and homeless animals in Marshall," Simmerman said.

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