PAYETTE COUNTY — The Idaho State Police’ Uniform Crime Reporting program released its 2020 Crime in Idaho report on July 1, detailing which types of crime are on the rise and which ones saw declines in a year complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report features statewide data, as well as breakdowns by county.
Extortion crimes rose dramatically, going from 49 cases per 1,000 in 2019 to 112 in 2020 (up 128.57%). Human trafficking cases increased in 2020, with five per 1,000 reported versus three per 1,000 for 2019 (up 66.67%). Animal cruelty cases round out the statewide top three, climbing from 38 per 1,000 in 2019 to 60 last year (up 57.89%).
Non-forcible sex crimes declined from 2019, when 87 cases per 1,000 were reported, to 62 in 2020 (down 28.74%). Two bribery cases per 1,000 occurred in 2019, while only one was reported in 2020 (down 50%). And while two gambling cases per 1,000 occurred in 2019, there none reportedin 2020 (down 100%).
Stolen property cases saw the greatest countywide increase by far, going from four cases per 1,000 in 2019 to 24 in 2020 (up 500%). Tied for second was pornography cases, doubling to two per 1,000 in 2020 from the one per 1,000 the year prior (up 100%), along with human trafficking cases which saw one case per 1,000 in 2020 unlike in 2019 (up 100%). Sexual crimes were at number three, up from 23 per 1,000 in 2019 to 30 in 2020 (up 30.43%).
The third steepest decline was robbery cases, down to one per 1,000 in 2020 over the two per 1,000 seen in 2019 (down 50%). Counterfeiting cases saw the second steepest, 8 per 1,000, down from 18 the prior year (down 55.56%). Tied for the steepest decline were gambling, one per 1,000 in 2019, and animal cruelty, four per 1,000 in 2019, both shrinking to zero in 2020 (both down 100%)
Overall crime rates countywide were up 2.23%
However, according to Payette County Sheriff Andy Creech, total offenses countywide were down 11.11% for 2020. The total for 2019 saw a decline of 6.6% over 2018, he noted.
“The overall arrests for 2020 also decreased by 23.8%; in 2019, there was a decrease of 4.32%,” wrote Creech in a July 9 email. “The decline of arrests is likely tied to the pandemic as well as other sources. In addition, in 2020 many deputies issued more citations than they did in physically arresting individuals.”
Creech said the department had three patrol division positions open, representing 25% of its total positions. He also observed that a decrease in commuter traffic for several months may have been associated with the decrease in offenses.
“This decreased the number of vehicles that we encountered on the road and decreased opportunities for contact with the citizens of Payette County and the people who travel through Payette County. We also had a decrease in calls for service during that time as well. Overall, there were many things that can likely be tied to the decrease in the offenses and arrests for 2020.”
According to Creech, the county had an offense clearance rate of 63.5%
“This clearance rate is due to the help of the citizens in Payette County,” he said.
In a July 8 email, Payette Police Chief John Plaza said the increase in stolen property crimes could be tied to people not locking their cars when leaving them parked.
“In looking at our thefts in the city, it appears most items were crimes of opportunity,” wrote Plaza.
He notes that crimes of opportunity may explain many theft and destruction cases through out the city.
“As far as assaults those entail many types from minor to more serious. It may be that people are just reporting more of what is happening to them to the police as the increases were not big.”
Regarding drops in arson, counterfeiting, robbery, gambling and animal cruelty crimes, Plaza said enforcement by his department may have helped deter would-be offenders.
“I would say the report and statistics speak for themselves and [Idaho State Police] works hard to correlate and produce this report yearly which is appreciated,” he added.
Plaza expressed appreciation to his team for working to enforce the law and hold people accountable.
“I credit both our officers and task force for continued enforcement of Idaho laws which help our community to continue to be a safe place to live.”
Creech reminds the public that any time they see anything that should be reported to law enforcement, they should do so.
“We appreciate all of the tips that we receive from our community. It is these tips that help us keep our communities safe.”
Multiple requests to Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff for comment on Fruitland’s crime rates were unreturned before press time.
The 2020 Crime in Idaho report can be read in full, with breakdowns of crime rates by county, at https://nibrs.isp.idaho.gov/CrimeInIdaho