POST FALLS – Rapid population growth and rampant methamphetamine use are driving up Post Falls’ crime, which increased nearly 14 percent in 2006, according to a recently released annual report.
“Crime overall has gone up,” said Post Falls Police Lt. Scot Haug. “As you have more people move into the area, you’re going to see more crime, more calls for service.”
In 2006, Post Falls police responded to 1,366 criminal offenses, a 13.8 percent increase from the 1,200 offenses the year before, according to the crime report.
Of those crimes, more than half likely are related to illegal drug use, particularly methamphetamines, Haug said.
“A lot of it is attributed to the meth problem we see in the community,” he said of the increase. “Those kinds of numbers should be shocking to the community.”
The increase in crime surpassed the city’s growth rate, at nearly 4 percent a year. The city – one of the state’s fastest growing – has nearly 24,000 residents.
Police are seeing some calls becoming increasingly more violent, which also could be tied to the meth problem, Haug said. For example, aggravated assault incidents rose to 41 in 2006, up from 34 the year before. Simple assaults jumped to 179 in 2006, from 139 the previous year.
In the last year, three officers were assaulted while in the field, Haug said.
Crimes against people spiked 23 percent in 2006, with 262 incidents, according to the report. Crimes against property jumped 9.2 percent, with 914 offenses. And crimes against society soared 26.7 percent, with 190 incidents.
Total arrests – with 957 in 2006 – increased 8.5 percent, according to the report.
The increase in crime, however, shouldn’t lead residents to consider the city dangerous, Haug said. The crime rate actually dropped roughly 10 percent in 2005, following an 18 percent climb in 2003, Haug said.
“Although we’re seeing a little fluctuation in our crime rates, Post Falls is still a very safe community,” Haug said. “Most is related to increase of growth. We are having some drug issues. But overall, Post Falls is a safe community.”
The irony in the 2006 report is that the police department received fewer calls for service than in 2005, Haug said.
In 2006, the department fielded 21,091 calls, compared to 21,680 calls the year before.
“That’s a sort of unique thing for us. (In the past), we’ve seen our calls for service go up quite a bit,” Haug said. “What we’re thinking is more than likely people are not calling about the noncriminal things. It’s not unusual for us to take time to get to nonemergency calls, such as a lock-out.”
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