ECSO crime stats beat state averages

The clearance rate for crimes handled by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office in 2018 is more than double the statewide average, according to recent reports. (Amalia Kortright/The Herald)

The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office’s crime and clearance rates for 2018 were well above state averages, according to a report released on Dec. 28.

In 2018, Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin said 139,289 calls for service or actions were taken by ECSO deputies while out of the office. Because the population in Elmore County is growing, Franklin said the crime rate is increasing along with it.

“That is slowly creeping up each year, by about 5,000 to 6,000,” Franklin said. “The county’s (population) is slowly growing. I know back in 1990, we had 49,210. We’re probably bumping about 90,000 right now.”

Of the 1,244 crimes handled by the ECSO, Franklin said 802 are considered solved. The ECSO’s overall crime clearance rate is 64 percent, compared to an average of 24 percent from all law enforcement agencies in the state.

“What we try to do as an investigative unit is strongly encourage that (deputies) stay above the statewide average,” Franklin said.

Franklin said the results were the best he has seen during his tenure and attributed the ECSO’s success to the work of its employees in all positions and support from outside entities.

“These good numbers that we’ve got can be attributed to everything from the dispatcher doing their job collecting all the data that they can on the calls they receive to the patrol deputy that actually goes out and works that call and collects the data and does a good narrative,” Franklin said. “They present that to the investigative division, who then goes out in the field and does their best to try to resolve the case. Over the years, we’re hiring better applicants. That’s through the Elmore County Commission working with us on trying to improve our conditions and our salaries.”

Franklin said many unresolved cases involve identity theft.

“Those cases are on the rise and that is one of the more rampant types of crime that we’re working. It’s gone up significantly in the past five years,” Franklin said. “With the technology out there and people getting very lax about protecting their personal data ­— anything from their Social Security number to their credit card data — and they’re using it in very bizarre places.”

Earlier last year, Franklin said skimmers were discovered at gas pumps in the Elmore area.

“Had people just merely paid for cash, we wouldn’t have a victim. But you’d like to think that you could purchase gas without becoming a victim of identity theft,” Franklin said.

Franklin said he’s noticed elderly residents are the primary targets for identity theft in the area.

“A couple of times a week, I have families that come to my office and I’m trying to coach people who are the son or daughter of grandma or grandpa who are getting taken advantage of,” Franklin said. “They think that there’s a promise of people saying you’re going to win hundreds or thousands of dollars and they’re giving out all this information over the telephone.”

Franklin said the clearance report, which is turned in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, includes seven categories: homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts and motor vehicle thefts.

In the homicides category, Franklin said murders and attempted murders are included. Franklin said the ECSO solved all 10 homicides it handled in 2018. The state’s average clearance rate is 65 percent.

A total of 19 rapes were worked by the ECSO during the past year and 18 were solved, Franklin said. The statewide clearance rate for rapes is 42 percent.

Franklin said the ECSO cleared 12 of 13 robberies and the statewide average is 34 percent.

The ECSO solved 466 of 546 incidents involving aggravated assaults, representing 85 percent clearance, nearly double the statewide average of 40 percent.

In burglaries, 235 cases were handled by the ECSO and 90 yielded arrests, which is 38 percent and more than double the statewide average of 15 percent.

The ECSO solved 186 of 389 thefts, Franklin said, which at 48 percent clearance is double the statewide average of 23 percent.

Lastly, the ECSO solved 20 of 32 motor vehicle theft cases for a clearance rate of 63 percent. The statewide average was 27 percent.

While drug-related crimes were not among the categories in the report, Franklin said deputies have made 89 drug arrests over the past 45 working days.

“That’s everything from somebody finding a small amount of marijuana to cocaine, to heroin, to trafficking drugs, to unlawful distributions,” Franklin said.