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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: Total Idaho crime down, but violence up

BOISE – Idaho’s crime rate dropped 1.5 percent in 2012, according to the new Crime in Idaho report, continuing a five-year decline, but the number of violent crimes – murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault – increased 5.2 percent.

That was partly due to a 3.2 percent increase in aggravated assaults, which made up 77.4 percent of violent crimes. Idaho’s population increased 0.8 percent in 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

The annual state report shows the North Idaho Panhandle had the highest crime rate in the state in 2012. That’s in District 1, which consists of the five northernmost counties. Second-highest for crime rate was District 5, the far southeastern corner of the state, which has the second-lowest population, while the Boise area, District 3, ranked third among the state’s six regions. That’s for the number of serious crimes per 100,000 in population, from murder to motor vehicle theft to drug crimes.

While overall serious crime in the state has been mostly declining for the past five years, it increased in 2011, then declined in 2012 to a point between the 2009 and 2010 levels. Total violent crime, a small subset of crimes against persons, has bounced around, jumping to a high in 2009, falling for the next two years, and then rising in 2012 to just below the 2010 level.

Among the tidbits in the report: The top five locations where violent crimes occurred in Idaho in 2012 were at residences, on roads, in bars, in parking lots, and at a school or college. Just 23.3 percent of those crimes were committed by strangers to the victims.

When the state broke down the results of the crime stats into a “crime clock,” it found that Idaho saw one murder every 13.5 days, one aggravated assault every 3.5 hours, one drug offense every 1.1 hours, and one burglary every 1.3 hours. The least common crime: bribery, with one offense every 182.5 days, followed by gambling, at one every 121.7 days. Most common was destruction of property, happening every 49.3 minutes.

The state crime reports go into a national “Crime in the U.S.” report, which is compiled later. Its latest figures show that in 2011, Idaho’s violent crime rate was sixth-lowest in the nation, at 200.9 per 100,000 residents. The only states with lower rates were, in order, Virginia (196.7), Utah (195), New Hampshire (188), Vermont (135.2), and Maine (122.1).

ITD rescues ducklings

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Incident Response team responded to an unusual emergency recently: Ten ducklings had fallen into a drain at an Interstate 84 off-ramp, next to the big, high sound wall of the Flying Wye intersection bridge.

A passing motorist reported the ducklings’ plight, and ITD workers arrived on the scene eight minutes later. They used a hoist mounted on the back of their maintenance truck to pull off the drain cover, and two workers then rigged up a bucket and rope and dipped out nine of the ducklings.

ITD worker James Cherry dropped down into the 7-foot-deep drain to try to rescue the 10th, but it went too far up the pipe and was unreachable.  The nine rescued ducklings were then returned to a stormwater retention pond at the Flying Wye, where they swam safely out onto the pond with their mother.

It was ITD’s second duckling rescue in a month; the first came when a mother duck and her brood fell into a storm drain at ITD’s headquarters in Boise.

New appointee

Kathy Simpson, wife of 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, has been appointed to the Idaho Judicial Council, the board that vets judge candidates and oversees Idaho’s judiciary, by Gov. Butch Otter.

“Having served with Mike in Congress, I know how busy life can be for people like the Simpsons who are so committed to public service at both the local and national levels,” Otter said. “I appreciate Kathy’s willingness to take on this new responsibility. She’s a great addition to the Judicial Council.”

Simpson, of Idaho Falls, succeeds Ronald Nate, of Rexburg, a Brigham Young University-Idaho professor whose term expired June 30; Otter appointed him to the council in 2007.

Simpson retired from more than 20 years of work at the Idaho National Laboratory and previously worked in banking after earning a bachelor’s degree at Utah State University. She also serves on the state Board of Veterinary Medicine and is an advisory board member for the McClure Center at the University of Idaho.

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