Sheriff’s Message, Week of January 29th
The American Fact Finder is an interesting website by United States Census Bureau www.factfinder.census.gov, which can be used to learn about Lyon County. We compared Lyon to four other Nevada counties with similar demographics: Carson City, Douglas, Elko, and Nye. Data is useful to analyze crime trends and provides a tool to develop public safety strategies. Five key areas we looked are housing and business units, poverty level, population and population densities.
The lowest housing units was Elko (20,778) while the highest was Douglas (23,890). Lyon had 22,448. Nye was the least populated (45,737) and Carson the highest (55,182). Lyon has 53,644 citizens. Business units generate county wealth and we have 779. Nye has 658 while Douglas (1,618) and Carson (1,930) are two to three times greater than Lyon. Our poverty level is 13.8, with Carson (16.4), Douglas (9.4), Elko (9.9) and the highest in Nye (17.4).
When it comes to total law enforcement staff devoted by county, we are significantly lower: Elko (124), Nye (109), Douglas (103), Carson (95), and Lyon (93). It should be noted that Carson’s population density is easier to provide services in Carson’s 157 square miles as opposed to our 2,003 square miles. Without a large industry or more business units in Lyon County, it is difficult to complete with the public safety services as provided by Douglas and Carson.
Each year, the Department of Public Safety releases its Crimes in Nevada report, which provides crime indexes, clearance rates, and property recovery rates. The crime index rate deals with serious crimes such as murder, robbery, assault, burglaries, and rape. For the past two reporting years, Lyon County’s numbers have been moving in a positive direction. Our crime index rate went from 25.2, to 17.91, and now is at 17.07.
Crime data demographics are not in our favor, but the results say differently. Of the five comparable counties, we have moved into 2nd with the lowest crime index rate for the past two years. This is a result of the hard work that LCSO and our volunteers have done to serve you. I also believe that this isn’t possible without community engagement and the support we receive from you.
Clearance and property rates are another comparison we looked at. A crime index offense is cleared when we have identified the offender, there is enough evidence to charge, and the offender is actually taken into custody. Successful strategies for increasing clearance and property recovery rates are getting investigators on scene quicker to take control of the investigation. This facilitates best practice crime scene processing, offender identification, follow up interviews, laboratory interaction, and case preparation. Our crime clearance and stolen property recovery rates are the middle to bottom rankings of the five counties. Previously, the LCSO rotated investigators every two years, which was stopped two years ago. We have added a sergeant and one deputy into this unit, bringing its totals to one supervisor investigator and four deputy investigators. Workforce stabilization, training, and staffing increases through realignments are showing slight improvements. Once the investigator training process is completed, we expect to see improved results.
Illegal narcotic activity is one of our two biggest citizen complaints, with traffic violations being the other. Methamphetamine, heroin, synthetic opioid pills, and black market marijuana sales will continue to be problematic for Lyon County due to our high poverty rate and low housing costs. Criminologists estimate 90-percent of property crimes are connected to illegal narcotic activities. High property crimes indirectly affect economic development. Illegal narcotic use and sales are connected to criminal street gangs, illegal firearm possession and sales, and violent crimes that increase crime rate indexes.
In 2016, we expanded the Narcotic Unit’s focus of main effort from solely street level narcotic dealers to include illegal business activities, criminal street gangs, stolen and illegal firearm possession, and domestic extremism. An additional deputy was placed in the unit in 2016 and another is schedule to rotate into the unit in 2017, bringing its total to one sergeant and three deputies. Last year, they made 51 arrests, recovered 23 weapons, five illegal marijuana grows, and seized over one pound of methamphetamine and limited amounts of heroin, cocaine, and black market synthetic opioids. As they develop best practices, we expect to see improved results.
We had great turnouts in Fernley and Dayton in the marijuana forums to explain the new law, challenges, and education strategies for parents. Modified marijuana law forums have also been provided for the Fernley Builder’s Association and Yerington’s Rotary. We will continue to provide these educational forums to any group or organization that would like a presentation
Recently, the Reno Police Department reported their DUI arrests have increased, which is the same for the LCSO. Our January 2017 DUI arrests increased 85-percent as compared to January 2016, with marijuana, methamphetamine, and alcohol impairments increases. If you are enjoying the Super Bowl, please use the designated driver program.
We want to congratulate Melissa Thomson for completing her ten-month dispatcher training program in six months. And finally, while this weekly post is longer than normal, there will be no posts during the next two week as my wife and I will be heading out of state to visit family.
Have a safe enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday, and as always, keep the faith,