Moses Lake reports drop in crime for 2018

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MOSES LAKE — Reported crimes dropped significantly in Moses Lake in 2018 compared to the year prior, and has decreased by about one-third since 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

This article compares 2018 to 2017 and 2012, the last date by which WASPC’s data tables are comparable. The article’s comparisons are based on total reported crimes, not crime rates per 1,000 people, which decreased by almost 60 percent since 2012. Moses Lake’s population has increased by about 10 percent since 2012, meaning increases of less than 10 percent to reported crime during that same period indicate a declining crime rate.

In 2018, 1,993 “Group A” crimes were reported, which does not include certain misdemeanor offenses like trespassing or disorderly conduct. That’s almost a 15 percent drop from 2017, when 2,340 crimes were reported, and around 33 percent less than 2012 when 3,017 crimes were reported.

During the same period, statewide crime reports have more or less kept steady with population, increasing .05 percent while population increased by almost 1.5 percent, according to census data, indicating a very slight dip.

On the flip side, clearance rate is the lowest in the last six years. The reporting system used by the WASPC and in many agencies across the country tallies clearances based on incident, not offense. If one offense within an incident is cleared, all offenses in that incident are cleared, according to the study, and the arrest of one offender in an incident will clear it even if other offenders have not been arrested yet.

In 2018, the Moses Lake Police Department reported it cleared just over 40 percent of cases. The number has fluctuated for the department over the last six years, ranging from just under 57 percent in 2015 to 2018’s low point of around 40 percent.

Though fewer than half of all cases were cleared and the rate is at a recent low-point, it remains one of the highest in the county. In 2018, agencies like the Ephrata Police Department and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office cleared just over 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively, even though both agencies reported fewer overall offenses for 2018.

Theft offenses, the most common reported crime, reportedly fell just over 3 percent as compared to 2017, falling from 596 offenses to 483, and have been on the decline since at least 2012, when there were 1,136 theft cases reported.

Destruction of property and drug violations are the second and third most common offenses, respectively. Destruction of property cases decreased by over 10 percent compared to 2017 and decreased by almost 58 percent since 2012. Drug violations have decreased by just over 32 percent since 2017, but overall has remained steady since 2012, generally hovering between 130 to 190 incidents over the last six years.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

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