APD experiences decrease in rate of resolved burglaries

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Burglary rates haven’t changed but police are solving them at a slower rate, public safety commissioners said in a meeting Monday.

The actual rate of burglaries during the past three years has remained static, but the clearance rate of the crimes — the number of criminals actually prosecuted versus the number of crimes recorded — has dropped, said APD chief of staff David Carter.

“We think [the clearance rate] is actually better than what we reported but still not good enough,” Carter said. “Offenses are reported at the regional level, and we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to recentralize the reporting methods.”

The clearance rate last year was 5 percent, well below the national average of 13 percent, said Ronnelle Paulsen, APD’s manager of planning and analysis.

“I want to see APD focus more on the risky criminals,” said Public Safety Commissioner Kim Rossmo. “Those who are disproportionately committing more crimes
than others.”

The commission allowed a public forum period, and Austin resident Heather Fazio expressed concern about what she called the “misallocation of police resources.”

“Victimless crimes are getting too much attention,” Fazio said. “We are still arresting people for possession of marijuana and focusing too much on traffic violations. We have enough money to allocate resources to crimes with victims.”

The citizens in attendance seemed to agree with Fazio on the issues, muttering in approval.
“Possession charges are, for the most part, secondary citations for other crimes,” said Public Safety Commissioner Ramey Ko. “And most burglary evidence is discovered in traffic stops.”

Ko ended the discussion on burglary, advising the best way to prevent burglaries is for members of communities to communicate and report suspicious activity.

Paulsen presented material to prepare the council for the next meeting concerning APD’s budget.
“Right now we’re in the process of reviewing the unmet needs of the budget for 2012, such as adding more detectives,” Paulsen said.

Assistant city attorney David Douglas then represented a pub crawler owner requesting the city’s ordinance banning open containers for passenger vehicles include an exception for pub crawlers — moving bars pedaled by up to 15 people — in the downtown area. The council made no recommendation to bypass the ordinance.

Gena Curtis, APD Lieutenant of Victim Services, concluded the meeting with an appeal for the commission to recommend to City Council that the city fund victim services full time instead of with grants. The council approved the recommendation unanimously.


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