Crime dropped in Payson in 2008 in almost every category except domestic violence —which showed an alarming 84 percent increase, according to statistics presented to the town council on Thursday.
Major crimes dropped by about 7 percent from 2007, despite a 6 percent increase in calls serious enough to warrant the dispatch of an officer, said Chief Don Engler.
The number of aggravated assaults plunged by 25 percent to 221.
The number of burglaries dropped by 37 percent to 92, with a single burglar accounting for about one-fifth of even that shrunken total.
“Hopefully he’ll now be on an adventure outside of Payson,” deadpanned Engler of the pending imprisonment of the town’s one-man crime wave.
In fact, the serious rise in domestic violence arrests to 186 and a small increase to 148 in drunk driving arrests represented the only bad news in an otherwise upbeat report.
“Domestic violence is increasing” nationwide as a result of the recession, said Councilor Su Connell.
She noted that in a recession it’s often harder for women with children to leave an abuser and live on her own. “They stay longer than they normally would — it’s a trend and it’s a very sad trend.”
“I can pledge the support of the police department” to protect the victims of domestic violence, said Engler. National statistics show that domestic violence calls remain the most dangerous type of call for officers on an emergency call. “We’d much rather intervene to try to prevent these situations.”
Almost all of the rest of the news on crime in Payson was encouraging — with the possible exception of the increase in calls requiring the dispatch of an officer by 1,300.
Engler said he was surprised to find that the rise in calls resulted in a drop in arrests.
“I can’t explain that,” he said. “We haven’t changed policies. We now cite and release more individuals and that was budgetary in nature, but we still book individuals of concern” if they pose a threat to the community.
He also said he was puzzled to discover that both the number of accidents and the number of traffic tickets written plunged.