Crime rates in Grand County saw increase in 2017
Despite a violent crime rate that is today nearly half of what it was during the early 1990s, some areas within the nation have seen rising crime rates, including Grand County.
While the upward trend in crime within the county is slight, it was evident across the county as well as in the communities of Granby, Fraser and Winter Park.
Data across 12 categories, ranging from sexual assaults to felony drug charges, in the Fraser and Winter Park area shows crime had increased in 2017 in 10 of the 12 categories.
The largest increase in crime in the Fraser Valley came in the form of sexual assaults, which saw a 300 percent increase between 2016 and 2017. Though the statistics are impacted by relatively low figures as, in 2016, police in the Fraser Valley recorded only one sexual assault, but recorded four in 2017.
Burglaries also saw a big uptick in 2017.
“I think that we can attribute our increased call load to a variety of factors, but the primary one is a strong economy, leading to additional visitor numbers to the valley,” Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor said. “These increased visitor numbers have resulted in an increase in citizen interactions with first responders across the board. We’ve seen this increase in traffic crashes, traffic complaints, EMS calls, etc.”
The Fraser-Winter Park Police Department recorded just four burglaries in 2016 but that figure climbed to 13 in 2017, an increase of 225 percent. Likewise, felony drug charges and calls for assistance to other agencies also grew by significant figures; the felony drug category went from seven incidences in 2016 to 16 in 2017. Assistance calls to other agencies more than doubled, jumping from 35 in 2016 to 79 in 2017.
“One of the alarming things we are seeing is an increase in property crime that can be directly related to drug activity,” Trainor stated. “While theft numbers were down in 2017, burglaries were up significantly. We arrested two subjects in 2017 who were responsible for numerous burglaries that they committed solely to feed their addiction to opioids.”
Rates for death investigations, mental subjects, criminal traffic offenses, DUIs and traffic crashes also grew in Grand County’s far southeast corner. The Fraser Valley, however, experienced a decrease in thefts, dropping from 69 in 2016 to 51 in 2017. And criminal mischief calls saw no change with officers fielding 30 calls in both 2016 and 2017.
The trend was similar in Granby where calls for service increased by 567 in 2017, going from 2,300 calls in 2016 to 2,867 calls last year. The total for 2017 amounts to nearly 1,000 more calls for service than the Granby Police Department received in 2014, when the department fielded 1,971 calls.
The total number of citations issued by Granby officers also increased in 2017 and the town saw increases in three out of four categories for which the department provides statistical data.
Granby saw an increase in both misdemeanor criminal offenses and serious traffic violations from 2016 to 2017 with misdemeanor criminal citations going from 22 in 2016 to 37 in 2017. Serious traffic violations were also up in 2017.
The Granby Police Department defines serious traffic violations as traffic violations involving incidents not covered by the Model Traffic Code, such as DUIs, license violations and criminal traffic offenses. The number of serious traffic violations more than doubled in 2017, going from 24 in 2016 to 56.
Chief Jim Kraker of the Granby Police acknowledged the slight increase in crime statistics and calls for police response and put much of it in context of the dynamics created by an improving economy and increasing population figures, as did Trainor.
“I think that when there is an upswing in the economy we see more construction projects and we see an upswing in crime also.” Kraker said.
He went on to highlight how construction projects are often popular targets for thieves and other criminals and that large-scale construction projects often rely on transient workers.
“I think we have all seen the increase in population, in tourism and in traffic,” Kraker said. “Just by volume of people, we are going to have an increase in criminal events. But it is important for us to maintain the quality of life that brought us here. We are still dependent on neighbors. We have to look out for each other. We don’t want to lose that potential as we grow.”
The statistical increases were also apparent when looking at Grand County as a whole.
Each year, the state of Colorado gathers a host of crime data from each of the judicial districts and counties in the state. The data is derived from criminal case filings in district court. The data covers the entire county, not just unincorporated Grand County.
Assaults, burglaries, thefts, drug charges, criminal mischief incidents and DUI cases each saw an increase in Grand County in 2017. While some of those increases, such as assaults, saw minor increases of a single additional criminal filing, others, like thefts and drug-related cases, saw significant increases with figures more than tripling between 2016 and 2017.
Lt. Dan Mayer with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said he has not seen anything big in terms of crime trends in Grand County over the past year, but he did highlight the recent string of burglaries.
“It seems to happen every few years, where someone will commit a string of crimes,” Mayer said. “With the population going up, and increases in visitation, some crimes have gone up. That will continue as the population goes up. I think that as long as the economy has rebounded, and you have more people and more buildings coming in, then naturally there will be an increase in crime.”
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