Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Crime rate: How do we compare?

  • Recently, some candidates for Ford County Attorney and Ford County Sheriff have centered their platforms around the crime rate of Dodge City and Ford County.

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  • Recently, some candidates for Ford County Attorney and Ford County Sheriff have centered their platforms around the crime rate of Dodge City and Ford County. Consequently, questions of resident safety have been raised. But when compared to cities of similar size and demographic, is the crime rate in the really above average?
    Overall Crime Rate
    In Ford County in 2011, a total of 1,184 crimes were reported, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's (KBI) website. Of those crimes, 1,045 occurred within the city limits of Dodge City. When broken down, numbers show that 3.5 of every 100 people in Dodge reported a crime last year. The 121 crimes reported by the county, outside of Bucklin and Spearville, break down to a .14 crimes per 100 residents. 18 total crimes were reported in Spearville. None were reported in Bucklin.
    While population does vary from city to city, when broken down per every 100 residents, the statistics can be evaluated on an even playing field.
    The numbers for Finney County are similar. A total of 1,196 crimes were reported in 2011, 962 of them being in Garden City. This gives Garden City a crime rate of 3.6 crimes per 100 residents and Finney County a rate of 3.2 crimes per 100 residents.
    Numbers in Seward County are lower compared to Finney and Ford Counties, with a total of 636 crimes reported in the county. 576 of the reported crimes took place in Liberal. The crime rate for Liberal is roughly 3 crimes per every 100 people. The rate is the same for Seward County as a whole.
    Kansas counties with the largest cities like Sedgwick County (Wichita) and Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kan.) have slightly higher numbers, but perhaps not as high as some might expect.
    24,671 crimes were reported in Sedgwick County in 2011. The county has a crime rate of 5 crimes per 100 residents. Wyandotte County has a crime rate of 6 crimes per every 100 people with 9,529 crimes reported.
    In Ford, Finney and Seward County, crime rates have decreased over the past three years. Stats from the FBI show a declining national crime rate as well.
    Assistant Ford County Attorney Scott James said law enforcement sees more crime south of Comanche Street which he describes as “an artificial line the city uses to divide the area.”
    There is more crime in the poorer areas like trailer parks, James said. He also noted that this is true for most cities.
    “It's just how it works,” he said. “In areas where people live in desperate circumstances they are more likely to have crime. Dodge City is not immune to this statistic.”
    Dodge City Chief of Police Craig Mellecker said that the Dodge City PD is definitely an “active department” but also said that crime tends to go in cycles.
    “The occurrence of stranger on stranger crime here is pretty low,” he said. “As far as armed robberies, shootings and stabbings, those have gone down from years past.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Most of the reported crime in Dodge City is either domestic violence or gang related, Mellecker said.
    Chief Mellecker also said that a fair portion of local crimes are committed by individuals under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
    “I think a lot of people would agree that when people are drinking to excess or using illegal substances, they don't make the wisest decisions,” he said.
    The FBI's website cautions against using crime data to compare city violence because rankings tend to be simplistic and ignore factors that influence crime, as well as the different ways crimes are measured and reported.
    “Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place,” the FBI warns.
    Editor's note: This is the first in a series of news stories delving into local crime rates. The overview above will be followed by a story on violent crime, gang-related crime and domestic violence.
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