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Worthington's 2012 crime rate lower than 2011's

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WORTHINGTON -- A review of Worthington's 2012 crime rates shows crime in the city is once again lower than the previous year.

Worthington Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey annually reviews the city's crime rates to compare them with two nearby southwest Minnesota cities of similar size -- Marshall (population 12,754) and Fairmont (population 10,029) -- using the State of Minnesota Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report compiled by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

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Minnesota sheriffs and police chiefs submit crime information from their area each year to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The bureau then sends the information to the FBI and also uses it to publish several state reports, including the Uniform Crime Report.

Included in the Uniform Crime Report is the crime rate for counties and communities in Minnesota. The crime rate, which is different than the number of crimes reported by an agency, is found by calculating the number of crimes that would be expected if the community had 100,000 residents. That calculation allows for comparison between communities of different population sizes.

For example, Worthington reported 638 crimes in 2012, and the community's total crime rate for the year was 5,741. This is down from Worthington's 2011 crime rate of 5,929. Marshall's 2012 total crime rate was 9,440, and Fairmont's was 12,225.

The report divides the total crime rate into two categories indicating a crime's level of severity -- more severe part one crimes and less severe part two crimes.

Listed under part one crimes are criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Part two crimes include forgery and counterfeiting, fraud, embezzlement, buying, receiving, or possessing stolen property, vandalism, weapons, prostitution, sex offenses, narcotic drugs, gambling, offenses against family and children, driving under the influence, liquor laws, drunkenness, disorderly conduct, vagrancy and other offenses.

Worthington's part one crime rate for 2012 was 2,051, while part two crimes totaled 3,689. Marshall had a part one crime rate of 3,489, with Fairmont reporting 3,031. Marshall's part two crime rate was 5,951 and Fairmont's was 9,193.

"It gives you an apples-to-apples comparison," Cumiskey said. "A lot of times, part two crimes are usually more solvable and solve a little easier. Part one crimes are a little harder, and they tend to have a lower clearance rate across the country. You usually catch the people that commit the bigger crimes, but they aren't the most common ones."

In addition to reviewing the crime rate for each city and county, the report includes the percentage of crime cleared -- crimes that have been brought to prosecution or crimes of which a law enforcement agency has identified the perpetrator but is unable to prosecute for some reason.

In 2012, Worthington's cleared rate percentage was 62 percent -- "the highest I can remember in years," Cumiskey said. Close behind was Marshall at 59 percent and Fairmont at 54 percent.

"When you look at it, these numbers are a broad measurement that the FBI uses to create a uniform crime report," he added.

The annual report also allows chiefs and sheriffs to compare crime trends. For example, the data confirms what Cumiskey and other local law enforcement agents had already noticed -- methamphetamine arrests and related burglary crimes have decreased in the area in the last 10 years by almost 50 percent.

"In the early 2000s, when we had big problems with meth -- we still have problems, but not the big labs like we had -- our burglary rate was way up there," Cumiskey said. "We were at around 100, but now, we're back down to the 40s."

Cumiskey has also noticed a decrease in theft, but it's still the most common type of crime committed in Worthington -- something that doesn't surprise him.

"People have a skewed vision that crime is really bad, but in reality, the crimes that are most prevalent are theft and burglary," he said. "About 75 to 80 percent of all crime in your city and county is someone stealing stuff that doesn't belong to them. That trend that holds true for the entire nation."

After examining the report, Cumiskey will present the information "to let the general public know that our crime rate is pretty good," he said.

Cumiskey has found the annual comparison to be helpful in portraying a clear picture of crime in Worthington and in debunking any myths there may be about the city's crime levels.

"When I came here, people had a perception that crime was higher in Worthington than in other places," he said. "Over the years, from the information that the state gathers, the rates for Worthington are usually lower than for (Marshall and Fairmont)."

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Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at http://throughthelookingglass.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7322
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