KHQ DIGGING DEEPER: Property Crimes By The Numbers
Starting July 1 the Spokane Police Department cut eight detective positions through attrition, effectively disbanding the Property Crimes Investigations Unit. Police encouraged people to continue reporting property crimes but said only five percent would be investigated.
Suddenly many people whose homes were broken into, and car prowled and stolen, were left to their own devices. Many members of the community felt outraged.
"We did not want to cut our property crimes unit," Cortright said. "I think there's a very big misperception that that was something we wanted to do and that wasn't true. It was a budgetary decision."
"We started to see a big increase when we started letting people know we're not investigating property crimes anymore.," Cortright said. "Criminals thought they could get away with it."
Even with the increases for the second half of the year, Cortright said the Spokane Police Department did not see an overall increase in property crimes for the entire year since property crimes were below average for the first half of 2011. Spokane Police launched its Patrol Anti-Crime Team (PACT) last January, which had an immediate effect. Cortright said police continue to work with Spokane Police's Targeted Crimes Unit (TCU), which still investigates property crimes, but focuses on identified crime series and repeat offenders.
According to Cortright, TCU is the recipient of a Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority (WATPA) grant, so the team focuses primarily on vehicle theft. The result between TCU and PACT created an 11.5% decrease in vehicle theft from 2010.
"I think these two units, along with Patrol at large, are doing the right
activities to arrest prolific offenders that cause a greater proportion of
property crime," she continued. "I believe that if we had not had to eliminate
the general Property Crimes Unit, we would have continued to see a decrease in
property crimes for the second half of 2011.
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