Crimes against people in Sweet Home spike over last year at end-of-June tally

Sean C. Morgan

Mid-year statistics show a spike in crimes against people in Sweet Home, while the number of property crimes is down slightly from last year.

The total number of calls to the Sweet Home Police Department, as of June 30 compared to June 30, 2017, is up by 5 percent, from 8,538 to 8,970. The total number of responses decreased by 2.7 percent, from 4,789 to 4,658.

The number of person crimes increased from 58 to 90, a 55-percent increase. The number of property crimes decreased from 115 to 113, a decrease of 1.77 percent.

With small sample sizes, like Sweet Home’s number of person crimes, a small number of incidents can reflect large percentage swings.

The increase in person crimes appears to be largely cases of harassment and assault, said Police Chief Jeff Lynn.

During the month of June, Sweet Home police responded to seven reports of harassment. Last year in June, they responded to two. Assault reports were down for June, from four last year to three this year, but it’s up during the first half of the year overall.

Also in June, police responded to five reports of restraining order violations this year, compared to three last June.

Person crimes also include child neglect, custodial interference, murder, elder abuse, menacing, sex offenses and rape.

Lynn said he doesn’t know why assault and harassment are more common this year, but “they’re not random people in these disputes.”

“These people know one another – family, acquaintances, friends.”

And the reports have underlying related issues, he said.

Police are looking at the statistics and the cases to help determine some of those issues, Lynn said, to determine whether they tend to be domestic violence, substance abuse or something else. They just haven’t broken it down to that level of detail at this point.

Among property crimes, June saw a decrease compared to June of last year except for thefts. Police responded to 38 theft reports in June 2018 and 32 in June 2017.

Among efforts to improve crime rates, Sweet Home has added a detective in the current budget, and it contributes to the Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement team.

Officer Sasha McDonald has trained a drug detection dog and is staying “extremely busy” in town and in nearby communities, like Lebanon, Lynn said. She also has been assisting LINE as it executes search warrants.

“Really, it’s a work in progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, the concentration of crime reports into specific neighborhoods, like the 1200 block of Nandina Street, appears to have decreased.

Lynn said the department “never” goes to the 1200 block of Nandina any more.

“Now we just have little spots here and there we try to tackle,” Lynn said. Nandina Street is a great example of what a neighborhood can do when residents come together, when “property owners take a positive role in turning it around.”