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Folsom police chief, city leaders take aim at crime rate reporting

Recent media coverage of percentage spikes in assaults, thefts is inaccurate according to chief
By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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Recent headlines in other newspapers and a few letters to the editor in the Telegraph have painted a picture of Folsom as a crime-ridden haven of drunkards and drug addicts with a bar brawl breaking out every few blocks.

So city leaders are taking issue with what they refer to as a misrepresentation of the numbers.

To help set the record straight, Folsom Police Chief Cynthia Renaud presented the City Council with “a snapshot of the law enforcement picture in Folsom” at their Feb. 12 meeting.

Crime statistics only looks at the reports filed and arrests made, but doesn’t look at the pro-active work done by the department and officers, Renaud said.

The city’s “part 1” crimes (mostly felonies) are down 14 percent year-over-year while “part 2” crimes (mostly misdemeanors) are down 16 percent, comparing 2011 to 2012.

“Total crime is down 15 percent,” she said.

She cautioned City Council members against using raw numbers and percentages because, “a raw number increase of two can be a percentage increase of 200.”

Felony assaults are “a challenge,” she said. It was one area reported on heavily in regional media.

When looking at the five-year trend, “where we are at this year in aggravated assaults, we are trending (fairly even).”

“Most of our aggravated assaults are alcohol involved,” she said. “They are concentrated in our apartment complexes and entertainment areas where we have a lot of bars.”

The numbers include domestic violence cases.

“In aggravated assaults, we went from nine (in 2011) to 17 (in 2012). The jump in terms of percentages looks alarming … at 10 percent, but it was actually only eight more.”

Mayor Steve Miklos said the numbers were not properly reported by regional media outlets.

“So that gets back to the misreporting in (a regional newspaper), the raw number from a percentage standpoint would look huge for a headline story but in actuality it’s not a big number,” Miklos said. “That headline grabber was not accurate.”

Renaud said the amount of juveniles involved in assaults went from five to one.

Fatal traffic collisions also show a severe spike when looking at percentages. In 2010, there were three. In 2011, there was one. In 2012, there were five.

Also, CAPS (Citizens Assisting Public Safety) donated the equivalent amount of time as nearly seven full-time employees.

“In 2013, we will have to look at combating the … negative impacts of realignment,” she said, referring to the state transferring inmates from state prisons to county jails. “I’ve talked about the residential community, but the two halves of this community are the residential community and the business community.”

She said the department is planning to do more public outreach to the business community.

See the full meeting at folsom.ca.us.