We recently got a final summary of the Iowa crime figures for 2005. The numbers in some categories are so low, it’ll take years of data to see if there are trends, though Department of Public Safety spokesman Jim Saunders says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Forty-two homicides, Saunders says, though it’s still too many, is one of the lowest murder rates in the country. Numbers in the new report are from 2005, and while it may take a long time to compile them, Saunders says having accurate and longterm records is a big help to law enforcement.
That’s what the intent is, behind the statistics …to monitor incidents and see a “crime picture” emerge, and figure out what we can do about it. For example, he says the report clearly shows a large drop in the number of meth-labs and arrests for making the illegal drug, a drop that followed passage of a new law putting strict controls on an ingredient used to make it. He says they’re also keeping track of not only murders, but the details of who’s committed them, who the victims are, and the relationship of the criminal to the homicide victim.
The relationship of victims and suspects and other factors in not only murder but other crimes tends to be useful from an investigative standpoint. Officers investigating a crime have a better idea what direction to look for an offender if they know what the statistics show in many similar cases, and it helps them focus an investigation, at least early on. The crime stats showed little change for Iowa, with a drop in theft and other property crimes but a slight increase in personal crimes like assault and rape.