Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — Figures released last week by the FBI show violent crime increased slightly in Utah in 2012.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, which tracks crimes by city and county nationwide, showed the rate of violent crimes in Utah was up by about four percent in 2012.
But violent crime was down in nearly every police jurisdiction in Davis County in 2012.
West Bountiful and Woods Cross were the exceptions. Each saw a slight increase in violent crime between 2011 and 2012, according to FBI statistics.
Woods Cross Police Chief Greg Butler said he would have to look at the statistics closer before he could fully comment on the figures, but he speculated some of the increase could be accounted for because he believes his officers are documenting crimes better.
Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross said he doesn’t know what’s driving the drop in most agencies, except that he’s seen a decrease not only in violent crime, but crimes across the board ranging from thefts to other property crimes.
“We’ve seen crime dropping since about 2003 throughout south Davis County,” Ross said. “We’d all like to take the credit (for the drop in crime). We all play a role: law enforcement, residents and businesses.”
Crimes may be going down, but calls for service are increasing.
“We’re doing more things as an agency in Bountiful,” he said. “We’re looking for things. I believe police and city employees in general are more visible in the community,” Ross said.
One of the things the chief believes local law enforcement is doing better than in the past is building relationships with the community, “to do the best job we can to keep crime down.”
South Davis residents do a lot to help protect the area, he said.
Among them is a willingness among neighbors to watch out for each other and report things that seem out of place, Ross said. Also, adults are often willing to intervene when they see a juvenile doing something “wrong, suspicious or illegal.”
But Ross believes the most important thing police have going for them in cutting crime statistics is the relationship law enforcement has developed with the community.
“We have a trust and respect and people feel comfortable with us,” Ross said.
If law enforcement has a problem with the public, it’s that sometimes people are unwilling to call the police if they believe the police can’t help. Or, sometimes people don’t call when they see something suspicious because they don’t want to bother police with something they’re not sure is a crime.
“If it appears suspicious, don’t put yourself in harms way, but call us with any information you may have — such as a description of the person or vehicle,” Ross said. “We’d rather get a call on something that turns out to be nothing, then have a crime committed.”
In releasing the crime statistics, the FBI warns that the statistics do not look at the variables that mold crime in a particular area, and shouldn’t be used to judge the effectiveness of a law enforcement agency.
Geography, demographics, economics and the cultural makeup of a community all factor in to an area’s crime rate, the report said. Transportation, proximity to a military installation and the area’s economic dependence on non-residents also may play a role.