Police & Courts

Violent crime climb continued in Quincy in 2017

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 17, 2018 10:45 pm Updated: Mar. 17, 2018 11:17 pm

QUINCY -- Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley says crime is cyclical in Quincy, meaning it changes from year to year, and some years are higher than others.

But the increase in violent crime in 2017 concerns him.

End-of-the-year crime statistics show there were 240 instances of violent crime in Quincy in 2017, which is the highest number since 2007, when 223 instances were reported.

Violent crime includes murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault or battery.

"It's actually increased 26 percent from 2014 to 2017," Copley said. "There's been no dip in each year. Sometimes it goes up more than others. (In 2017), it went up 16 percent. (In 2016), it only went up almost 2 percent, but it still continues to creep up."

The jump last year came largely from a nearly 24 percent increase in aggravated assault and battery, with 176 incidents reported in 2017 after 142 were reported in 2016.

There were no murders in Quincy for the second consecutive year. Criminal sexual assaults increased by one, to 43, in 2017, and robberies dropped by one, to 21.

The good news is that, overall, the Quincy crime index, which includes violent crime and property crime, dipped about 5 percent, from 1,482 in 2016 to 1,406 in 2017. Burglaries were down more than 20 percent, from 282 to 221, and thefts dropped 5 percent, from 945 to 894.

Home invasions have shown the cyclical nature of crime, with 13 in 2015, seven in 2016 and 10 in 2017. But they particularly concern Copley.

"By their nature, they're violent and they're dangerous, because people are entering homes where they know someone is there," he said.

Drug arrests, which are not tracked as part of the crime index, dipped 18 percent, from 451 in 2016 to 368 in 2017. The arrests do not include those made by the West Central Illinois Task Force.

Copley attributed the reduction in drug arrests to the state's decriminalizing of small amounts of cannabis.

However, methamphetamine climbed 33 percent, from 103 in 2016 to 137 in 2017, and controlled substance arrests increased, from 61 in 2016 to 69 last year.

"Meth is still the No. 1 drug in our area, and it has been ever since meth hit us in the 1990s," Copley said.

Last year, the department tried to start a program called Q-TAP -- the Quincy Turn Around Partnership -- as a way to target specific violent crime offenders in the community and offer them positive alternatives and community resources to change their lives or risk stiff sentences if they commit a future violent crime.

But the program did not move forward and was not included in the city's budget.

Copley hopes to find ways the department can be more proactive in addressing violent crime in the future, but more data need to be reviewed from similar programs across the country.

"We've found some flaws in the programs that we were basing Q-TAP on, and we're looking for other ideas," he said. "I know there's a program in Chattanooga that is touting success. We're going to look in that direction."

Copley said officers typically can only react to crime.

"We can put pressure on something or some place and make a difference, but in a real numbers world of crime, we don't control crime," he said.

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