SALT LAKE CITY -- The Department of Public Safety released the freshest crime stats across the state, outlining crime trends and what’s on the rise in Utah.
It shows all crime is up across the board, but there’s one blaring detail of note in the report that has nothing to do with any crime at all.
The statistics are from 2016. Meaning, the most recent crime data available for the state of Utah are two years old.
Homicides were up 42.59%, two years ago.
Violent crime in general also rose, 17.66%, two years ago.
$122,070,144 worth of property was stolen. 34 percent, or $42,355,059 of it, was returned—two years ago.
Arrests dropped by 4.18%. Two years ago.
“We're two years behind in getting crime reporting information into the hands of public officials like myself, and others who may need that data,” said Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry.
DPS explained that a database conversion and staffing changes delayed the statistics. Normally they would have been released in the fall of 2017.
The now couple-of-years-old data shows crime was on the rise back then. But knowing that now, Perry indicated, doesn’t help departments or lawmakers in planning for the future.
“We know we have a population growth in Utah, and yet we have lesser law enforcement officers, we don’t have as many law enforcement officers on the street,” he explained. “So, what we're seeing is that crime may be increasing, and we're not keeping up with that.”
A WalletHub study released this week shows Utah ranks #49 when it comes to number of law enforcement officers per capita.
“We are extremely low,” Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said, of that statistic.
She said crime statistics and trends are essential in telling them where to plan for staffing, and how much extra staff to request at budget time.
“If we can look at the trends and see where things are headed, we’ll know what type of detective—if we need to increase there, if we need to increase in patrol,” Sheriff Rivera explained.
They look at Salt Lake County numbers every quarter, she said, to keep up with trends.
But for those two-year old state numbers?
A new law Perry helped back in this year’s legislative session took effect on May 8. It requires every agency to report their crime numbers monthly.
“If we do it monthly, it'll be a lot more accurate,” he said.
According to the Department of Public Safety, the crime report for 2017 is expected to come out this fall. But for 2018, Perry expressed that the goal with the new law is to move that timeline up.
“Come January 2019, we can expect to see the 2018 report,” he said.
DPS said it would like to publish state crime statistics every quarter, and eventually in real-time as the numbers are reported.