The Scottsdale Police Department is reporting a slight decrease in overall violent crimes over the last five years, but officials are anticipating a dramatic increase in the number of sexual assaults reported in calendar year 2014.
Due mostly to a change in national reporting requirements, the number of sexual assaults in Scottsdale reported last year is expected to jump 164 percent over the previous five-year average.
Scottsdale Police report there were 86 forcible rapes last year in the city, compared to an average of 33 per year for the prior five years.
“There are a number of factors that can be attributed to this increase including increased national awareness and reporting of sex assaults,” said Scottsdale Police Sgt. Benjamin Hoster in a Feb. 19 written response to e-mailed questions.
Sgt. Hoster points out the FBI recently changed the definition of what constitutes a sex assault, and that definition now includes male victims. The Scottsdale Police Department provides annual report tallies to the Uniform Crime Reporting data housed by the FBI.
Police officials say they are still awaiting final numbers to be added to the UCR database.
“Beginning January 2014, the UCR rape definition changed to ‘Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim,” said Sgt. Hoster.
Over the last five years there were an average of 33 accounts of sexual assault labeled as “forcible rape” reported in Scottsdale, with the lowest amount (20) occurring in 2009 and the most (42) in 2012, according to a 2014 UCR crime analysis.
The Scottsdale Police Department is reporting a total of 86 forcible rape charges in 2014, which is a 163.8 percent increase in the number of reported sexual assaults within Scottsdale city limits compared to the five year average, the analysis states.
But numbers also show an overall decrease in violent crimes reported.
Violent crime reported within Scottsdale city limits peaked over the last five years in 2010 with 77, and dropping to 50 in 2012, according to an analysis provided by the Scottsdale Police Department.
“Over our five-year averages, we have seen a slight decrease in our overall violent crimes,” Sgt. Hoster says. “While 2014 is still being calculated, we anticipate that trend will continue.”
The city of Scottsdale employs 1.1 police officer per 1,000 residents within a total population of 224,800.
“Our patrol staffing levels have basically stayed the same for the last several years,” Sgt. Hoster said. “Any impact staffing levels would play on crimes reported would be evidenced by the time from the call into the police department to the time when the call is dispatched.”
Sgt. Hoster feels the Scottsdale Police Department is appropriately staffed given the volume of crime reported.
“We use Corona Solutions software to make sure we are at optimum staffing,” he said. “Patrol staffing remained largely unaffected while other positions were reassigned.”
Scottsdale Councilwoman Virginia Korte says she would like to initiate a discussion at the council level on appropriate staffing levels at the police department.
“We really haven’t discussed staffing levels and I think there should be a discussion,” said Councilwoman Korte in a March 3 phone interview.
“While we may have a slightly higher number of officers-per-resident statistically than neighboring communities, I think those numbers are appropriate because of the daily influx of people into Scottsdale.”
The amount of sworn officers patrolling Scottsdale streets decreased from fiscal year 2010-11 — when there were 423 full-time equivalent officers employed at SPD — until last fiscal year when there were 414 full-time equivalent officers employed, records show.
The amount of all personnel at SPD in fiscal year 2010-11 was 688.9 full-time equivalent employees, while last fiscal year that number shrunk to 673.60 full-time equivalent employees, records show.
According to the Feb. 8 Scottsdale staff report, there are 328 police officers employed this fiscal year at the SPD.
Counciwloman Korte says a good analysis of administration needs at the police department ought to be conducted.
“It seems we are little top heavy on the officers compared to the civilian numbers,” she said.
While a staffing evaluation remains a need, Councilwoman Korte says overall crime is down in Scottsdale — and that’s a reflection of the men and women of the department.
“The numbers reflect that our crime ratings have gone down,” she said. “I think that reflects many things about the stability of our public safety departments.”
Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at firstname.lastname@example.org