GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Crime statistics revealed Tuesday morning show a mixed bag for the first six months of 2011 in Grand Rapids.
The crime numbers released are from the first six months of this year. Compared to the same time period last year, violent crimes are down 17% and property crimes are down 13%.
But 24 Hour News 8 found out Tuesday night the numbers aren't the whole story.
We found out the number of aggravated assaults are down by nearly 15 % from the same time last year. Those are the kind of assaults that usually leave victims seriously injured and/or in the hospital.
While the number of assaults is down, officials told us those who are assaulted tend to be hurt more.
"We're seeing fewer assaults, so that should be good news," said Lt. Patrick Merrill. "We are seeing a statistically important increase in the type of injury sustained. So while last year, you may have had 100 assaults, this year you might only have 89 assaults. The injuries sustained in those 89 assaults statiscally is becoming more severe."
That violent trend applies to assaults across the board, including things like domestic violence and stranger assaults.
Officials said this is the first time they're seeing the trend, and are unsure of the cause.
One theory we found out Tuesday night, has to do with the economy. When people have less money and go out less. But when they do go out, they might overdo it and get into trouble.
That's only a hypothesis at this point.
"We don't know at this point. Frankly we're guessing," Merrill said.
Assaults, including shootings, against police officers are also up, a trend not unique to Grand Rapids.
Another number 24 Hour News 8 looked at was the number of weapons taken off the streets.
"We've been on an upward swing," said Merrill. "That upward swing is pretty severe in the arena of guns. The good news is we're getting [guns off the streets] left and right."
From 2010 to 2011, 43% more weapons have been taken off Grand Rapids streets.
"That's good news that we're getting the guns off the streets. The bad news is that the guns are out there in the first place to get," Merrill said.
Police officers told us one of the reasons they are finding more weapons, is that there's a shift in how people with illegal guns interact with officers on the streets.
Over the past few years, we found out, suspects are less likely to throw the guns away and more likely to use them in a confrontation. Another nationwide trend that has many people scratching their heads.
"It can cause a lot of change in behavior in patrol personnel. It's one thing to chase somebody with a gun, but as more and more people pull those guns out, it's a different world," Merrill said.
Grand Rapids Police officials told 24 Hour News 8 the city is in a very "lucky" position right now. The country as a whole, including Grand Rapids, is seeing an overall decrease in crimes. Merrill said the city can "get away with" fewer officers on the streets for now. But made sure to mention that he doesn't think. "anybody at [the police department]is naive enough to believe [the department is] going to be able to continue to get away with that." He mentioned the quality of officer on the streets, and the people of Grand Rapids as a few reasons why the city is able to function as well as it does with fewer officers. He pointed out that more officers would always obviously be better.
The statistics also noticed that while kids may get a bad rap, assault offenders tend to be older. Kids ages one - 16 only account for about 5% of assault suspects.
The homicide rate, including the numbers from Rodrick Dantzler's rampage are significantly higher than for this time last year. From January to July 2010 the city saw five murders. The first seven months of 2011 saw 12 murders, seven in one day.
Officials also encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact police, so they have a better idea where to send resources. They highlighted the department's new Facebook page
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