Report shows positives and challenges for Marshall law enforcement

MARSHALL — The numbers in Marshall’s 2016 police report have been fairly consistent compared to the previous year, and even show some positive changes. But there are also some ongoing trends that might be hard to see just from looking at the numbers, Marshall Public Safety Director Rob Yant said Tuesday.

“We had a real spike this fall in serious calls,” Yant said — incidents involving people suffering mental health problems, serious substance abuse, or people with weapons. It’s a trend the Marshall Police Department is working to address, he said.

The 2016 report of Marshall Police activity was posted on the Marshall city website on Jan. 5. The MPD has posted annual activity reports online, going back to 2009.

In 2016, Marshall Police responded to 10,512 calls, and conducted 182 felony investigations, the report said. The report also lists the number of service calls police responded to throughout the year, broken down into different categories.

According to the 2016 activity report, calls about certain types of crime were down from 2015. A total of 57 assault calls were reported, compared with 70 in 2015. There were 278 theft calls, compared with 356 in 2015. Drug and narcotic-related calls were down slightly — 14 were reported in 2016, compared with 17 in 2015.

On the other hand, some types of calls were on the rise last year. A total of nine calls for weapons-related incidents were reported in Marshall, up from 3 in 2015. There were a total of 64 burglary calls in 2016, compared to 44 in 2015. But even that increased number of burglaries isn’t comparable to 2012, which had the highest number of burglary calls — 129 total — reported in the past several years.

However, Yant said there are aspects of Marshall law enforcement that aren’t obviously reflected in the annual report’s statistics. Some of the incidents police respond to aren’t easy to categorize, he said. Those include incidents where a person may be in need of mental health resources, in possession of a weapon, on drugs, or even a combination of those factors.

Yant said he is part of a group including local mental health professionals and pastors that is meeting to develop ways to help law enforcement respond to those serious calls.

There are other ways to look at crime statistics for Marshall, as compared to other Minnesota cities, Yant said. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension publishes an annual Uniform Crime Report, on statewide crime and law enforcement activity. The most recent report, for 2015, covers a variety of statistics, including crime rates in Minnesota cities and counties.

The Uniform Crime Report breaks divides crime rates into “part 1” and “part 2” categories, Yant said. Part 1 is for crimes that are considered more serious, like murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary and arson. The part 2 crime rate covers crimes like fraud, vandalism, DWI offenses, drug offenses, and weapons offenses.

In Marshall, “We’re really good on part 1 crime,” and more in the middle on part 2 crime, Yant said.

The part 1 crime rate is what the Minnesota BCA uses to report the state’s annual crime index. The index, and crime rates for cities, are calculated as the number of offenses reported for every 100,000 people. In 2015, the Minnesota crime index was 2,368 per 100,000 people.

According to the 2015 Uniform Crime Report, Marshall had a part 1 crime rate of 2,113. In comparison, Worthington had a rate of 1,666, and Willmar had a rate of 3,390. The city of Mankato had a part 1 crime rate of 4,325, and St. Cloud had a rate of 5,292.

While Marshall may have a lower risk for crime than some Minnesota cities, Yant still encouraged residents to take safety precautions like locking doors and not leaving purses or other valuables in cars.

“Part of it is just the fact that we’re a mobile society,” Yant said. Making safety into a habit here in Marshall can help reduce the chance of being victimized in other places, too.

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