"Crime's down," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said.
That's the long and the short of it in the analysis of Payson's crime-fighting efforts, as detailed in the police department's 1999 Annual Report.
Payson's crime rate in 1998 was 54.3 index crimes per 1,000 residents. Last year, that rate dropped to 44.5 index crimes per 1,000 residents.
"For the most part, the crime rate is declining throughout the country," Gartner said.
A community's crime rate is determined by the number of index crimes that occur in a police jurisdiction during a one-year period. The Uniform Crime Reporting System defines index crimes as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, assault, burglary, larceny-theft, and arson.
"We believe that some of the decrease in the crime rate can be attributed to our staff doing a better job of gathering data," Gartner said in his report. "For instance, we discovered that our system was cataloging all reports of crimes as actual crimes. In reality, many reports of crime are unfounded or fall into other categories.
"Whatever the reason, (the drop in crimes) is good news," he said.
More good news can be found in the following statistics:
Arson --dropped from 6 in 1998 to 3 in 1999;
Assault --dropped from 156 in 1998 to 131 in 1999;
Burglary -- dropped from 53 in 1998 to 41 in 1999;
Disorderly conduct --dropped from 302 in 1998 to 229 in 1999;
Motor vehicle theft --dropped from 31 in 1998 to 24 in 1999;
Rape/sexual assaults --dropped from six in 1998 to five in 1999;
Theft --dropped from 456 in 1998 to 371 in 1999.
Overall arrests were down dramatically in 1999, with 925 adult arrests, compared to 1,323 arrests in 1998. Juvenile arrests dropped slightly from 406 in 1998 to 388 in 1999.
"DUIs have also dropped," the chief said, from 227 in 1998 to 157 arrests last year. "There could be a number of reasons for that. In part, I'm hoping that it's because many of our drivers are becoming more educated. I also believe that because we had a couple of liquor establishments close for at least part of last year, I'm going to guess that had at least some impact on (DUI arrests)."
In 1999, the Payson Police Department completed its second year using the beat system, designed to put officers more in touch with the citizens they serve and protect.
"I think officers are beginning to understand the purpose of the beat system, that you have a geographic area of responsibility," Gartner said.
All in all, Gartner said, he feels the town's law enforcement is effective, exceptional and making a difference in preserving the quality of life.