Crime Rates Up in Mesa County
Promises made, Promises Broken… and the aftermath…
Crime in Mesa County has been higher than our surrounding neighbors for a long time.
But in 2017 it was still a shock to most when the Sheriff announced Volent Crime was up 500% in Mesa County!
He attributed the shocking increase to a severe lack of personnel, particularly in the form of patrol deputies and detention deputies.
He made the compelling argument the safety of citizens, Sheriff’s staff and jail inmates was imperiled by this severe lack of manpower.
We agreed to the Sheriff’s request and we imposed a Public Safety Tax on ourselves to fix the problem.
This small tax, we were told would raise the funds to hire and equip the additional 56 deputies needed to turn the rising crime trend around and ensure our safety. Specifically, he said he needed 24 additional patrol deputies and 32 detention deputies.
Fast forward four years:
CRIME IS UP
Crime is up! On top of the already high “500%” level, violent crime has increased an additional 60% between 2018 (when they started receiving the tax) and the end of 2021. Other crimes like Motor Vehicle Thefts are up 93%from when the Sheriff first received our additional tax money.
Crime Rate Increase 2018-2021
Violent Crime Up 60% Sexual Offenses Up 54% Aggravated Assault Up 61%
Robbery Up 71% Fraud Up 29% Motor Vehicle Thefts Up 93%
MORE CRIMES UNSOLVED
And the clearance or solving of crimes has taken a hit as well. In 2018 under one and one-half out of ten thefts were solved. By 2021, that had dropped to less than one out of ten thefts are solved.
And it is not just Larceny and Theft. Burglaries, Fraud, Sex Offenses and Motor Vehicle Theft all had clearance rates of less than two out of every ten crimes solved in 2021.
HIGER THAN STATE AVERAGE
While the tax started before COVID, it is reasonable to ask if that is the cause of our issues.
Unfortunately, Mesa County’s Crime and clearance rate do not compare favorably with the averages of the rest of the state. While the state saw increases overall, they were not magnified like those in Mesa County.
For example, during the same timeframe Mesa County’s Violent Crime rose 60%, the statewide average only rose 17%!
WHAT WENT WRONG
Well, it was not the money. The sales tax increased greatly and brought in much more revenue than anticipated. The 2021 and 2022 budgets were both nearly ten million dollars each year to the county. Close to double the total amount anticipated when the tax was first proposed.
The primary issue was that the plan we were presented was ignored after receiving the money.
The plan to hire 56 patrol and detention deputies was never followed… not even close.
In the five years since we were told the money would be spent less than two dozen new employees have been added to the employment rolls. And many of the positions and not patrol or detention deputies but instead lawyers, video technicians, etc.
Today there is often fewer patrol deputies available to respond to emergency calls than before the tax.
The Tax funds are used to pay everyday bills, including the three quarter million dollar 911 bill that was previously paid with money from the general fund. This allows those original general fund dollars to be used elsewherewhile still saying the tax dollars were spent on “public safety”.
On 03/09/22 we will detail additional information about how our vote is not serving our interests, as well as our plan to get Mesa County back on track again! Check back to learn more about how this happened, where your money went and what you can do about it!