Des Moines County crime stats for past three years shows community relatively safe




  • In US
  • 2022-05-18 11:02:27Z
  • By The Hawk Eye

Police incident reports and arrest data from Des Moines County law enforcement agencies in 2019, 2020 and 2021 show that, despite some difficulties making arrests for certain crimes, the Burlington area appears to be relatively safe.

At the request of The Hawk Eye, the Burlington Police Department, West Burlington Police Department and Des Moines County Sheriff's Office (which provides policing services for all the other cities and towns in Des Moines County) provided counts of incident reports filed and arrests made for a variety of crimes.

The data was not a comprehensive list of the criminal charges local police frequently deal with, but represents some of the more dangerous crimes police respond to, as well as more frequent nuisances to the public.

The data does not include any drug, firearms or sex crime arrests made by federal agencies or criminal charges filed by investigators with the Southeast Iowa Narcotics Task Force.

Not all of the arrests for each crime category stem directly from the incident reports of the same category.

For example, a call for domestic violence could result in an arrest for assault, depending on the circumstances of the case and the outcome of the investigation.

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Additionally, while an incident report may only contain one type of criminal offense, the number of charges against a person could fit in more than one category.

As an example, a person pulled over under the influence of alcohol could lead to an OWI incident report. But the person could be charged not only with an OWI, but also for driving with a suspended license, possessing narcotics, not wearing a seatbelt, etc.

The numbers provided also do not indicate how many of those arrests resulted in convictions, acquittals, guilty pleas or dropped charges.

The numbers illustrate a low crime rate in Des Moines County and suggest local law enforcement are consistently responsive to crime in the Burlington area.

"The Burlington Police Department, for the size of our department, manages approximately 30,000 calls a year," said Burlington Police Chief Marc Denney. "Our officers do their best to determine the impact of every call they respond to and its effect on those in crises and help them to a successful resolution. Sometimes we are successful. Sometimes we are not."

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Some rises and drops in area crime post-pandemic, but rates mostly steady

It is unclear exactly how much of a direct impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on crime in Des Moines County during 2020 and 2021. Compared to 2019, some crimes saw increases while others saw decreases.

Those fluctuations fall into two categories: temporary increases/decreases and ongoing increases/decreases. In Burlington, the following crime categories saw increases in 2020, followed by a return to pre-pandemic levels or lower in 2021:

  • Vandalism incident reports in 2020 increased by nearly 24% from the previous year, but dropped more than 31% in 2021; and

  • Domestic violence incident reports in 2020 increased by 34% compared to the year before, but dropped by more than 22% in 2021.

Sex-related crime saw an increase from 2019 numbers by 50% in both 2020 and 2021.

Drug possession incident reports filed in Burlington dropped from 179 in 2019 to 117 in 2020, only to increase to 179 again in 2021.

Burlington did see the following ongoing crime decreases in 2020 and 2021:

  • Burglary incident reports dropped by more than 33% in 2020 and nearly 40% in 2021;

  • Disorderly conduct incident reports dropped by 52% in 2020 and nearly 76% in 2021; and

  • Theft incident reports dropped by 9% in 2020 and more than 36% in 2021.

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After seeing four murders in 2019, Burlington had only one homicide in 2020 and none in 2021.

West Burlington also recorded increases in certain crime categories post-pandemic:

  • Domestic violence incident reports increased from nine in 2019 to 22 in 2020, but saw only 17 in 2021;

  • OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated) incident reports also saw an increase, going from eight in 2019 to 16 in 2020, and 19 in 2021.

  • And sex-related crimes also saw a slight increase, with only one incident report being filed in 2019, two in 2020, and six in 2021.

West Burlington did see the following crime decreases in 2020 followed by increases in 2021:

  • Assault incident reports saw a 22% drop in 2020, but increased by more than 46% in 2021;

  • Burglary incident reports dropped from 26 in 2019 to six reports in 2020, but then jumped to 21 reports in 2021;

  • Drugs/narcotics and equipment violations incident reports dropped more than 52% in 2020 before increasing by 60% in 2021.

West Burlington saw the following ongoing crime decreases:

  • After filing two robbery incident reports in 2019, West Burlington police filed only one report in 2020 and took no reports in 2021; and

  • Theft incident reports dropped by more than 29% in 2020, only to see a slight uptick of three more theft reports in 2021.

Elsewhere in Des Moines County, the Sheriff's Office saw an increase in theft reports, jumping from 51 in 2019 to 65 in 2020, before seeing a decrease to 41 in 2021.

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The sheriff's office reported a sustained increase in drug/narcotics violations, going from 46 incident reports in 2019 to 88 in 2020 and another 88 in 2021.

After filing 41 incident reports for assault in 2019, the sheriff's office filed 33 in 2020 and 31 in 2021.

Burglary reports dropped by more than 18% in 2020 and by more than 31% in 2021.

The sheriff's office filed 14 animal call reports in 2019, but only four in 2020 and three in 2021. Animal bite reports also saw a drop, from 27 in 2019 to 22 in 2020 and only 13 bites reported in 2021.

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Crime in Des Moines County overwhelmingly low

One undeniable takeaway after reviewing the data is that crime in Des Moines County is low.

In 2019, 2020 and 2021, the Des Moines County Sheriff's Office filed no robbery reports and the West Burlington Police Department filed a total of three reports.

During those three years, West Burlington police had to investigate only one murder, while the sheriff's office had none.

For most of the crime categories examined, the number of arrests made by each agency was either close to the number of reports filed or, in some crime categories, the number of arrests exceeded the number of incident reports filed.

For context, even if each single arrest listed in the data provided for 2019, 2020 and 2021 represented the criminal activity of a single individual, with Des Moines County having a population of 38,910 (according to the 2020 census), the arrest totals for all three years would only represent 8.7% of the county's population.

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Denney said he believes a variety of factors can come into play.

"Stats are skewed for many reasons, depending on what's occurring economically, socially, and during critical instances," Denney said. "Population fluctuations, incarcerations, and other factors drive numbers within a community."

Denney also said police staffing levels being high enough to keep up with public demand as another factor in the statistics.

Denney also acknowledged the pandemic likely did contribute to a rise in some crime categories.

"Certain crimes such as domestics went up as people in a household were in stressful situations for an undetermined amount of time, and loss of income in most cases, leading to additional stress on the family situations," Denney said.

West Burlington police chief Jesse Logan believes the drop in crime reports and arrests seen in 2020 and 2021 can be attributed to the many businesses that were shut down and more people simply staying home because of the pandemic.

"We had a significant drop in our retail theft, and other incidents all around," Logan said. "With everything opened back up with no restrictions, now the numbers are climbing back up to more pre-pandemic numbers."

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Some crimes are more difficult to solve than others

There are some crime categories with glaringly low arrest rates in comparison to the number of incident reports filed by local police.

All three agencies reported relatively low arrest rates for burglaries, sex-related crimes, thefts and vandalism.

Of the 723 burglary reports filed by Burlington and West Burlington police and the Des Moines County Sheriff's Office in 2019, 2020 and 2021, a total of 104 burglary arrests were made.

Of the 2,560 theft reports filed by those same agencies during that timeframe, a total of 824 theft arrests were made.

And of of the 1,063 vandalism reports filed by local police the last three years, 181 arrests were made.

Denney said the nature of these crimes make them harder for investigators to solve.

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"A great deal (of them are) cold and complex to determine when the actual robbery or burglary occurred as, generally, no one is home when these instances occur and they later find out they were a victim of a crime," Denney said. "Many victims report only out of necessity to file for insurance claims as required by their carriers."

Denney added the lack of record-keeping of one's property, including serial numbers, adds to the challenges of recovering stolen property.

In West Burlington, Logan said the retails businesses bear the brunt of the city's theft reports.

"We have a lot of theft walkouts at our retail businesses, and if we can not identify the suspects we are unable to get the arrest we need," Logan said. "Social media has really made our jobs easier for when we need to identify suspects, but we don't get them all identified."

Logan also noted that vehicle burglaries typically don't lead to arrests.

According Des Moines County Sheriff Kevin Glendening, arrest rates for property crimes tend to be lower simply because those incidents tend not to have any witnesses.

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"We have a very dedicated group of deputies and detectives who will process crime scenes for physical evidence, follow up with neighbors and others to develop witnesses or find the presence of cameras, and follow up on other potential leads," Glendening said. "Many times, especially with burglaries and thefts, you will have one person or one group committing several burglaries or thefts. In these incidents, we may only develop probable cause to file one or two charges against them, as opposed to the three or four that they are suspects in.

"While our goal is to clear every incident that is reported to us, we must meet the threshold of probable cause to make the arrest, and we are not always able to meet this threshold.'

Sex-related crimes is another source of difficulty for area police. During the past three years, all three agencies filed a total of 190 reports, but 28 arrests were made.

Denney said that while sex-related crimes can include a range of offenses, his department takes each report with the seriousness it warrants.

"Each case is investigated to its fullest extent, and arrests are made on situations that warrant an arrest," he said, adding when investigators determine a report has no merits, those reports are considered "unfounded" and the case gets closed.

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While West Burlington police consider sexual assault cases a high priority, Logan said investigators typically come up against two issues that bring cases to a halt.

"The victim may not be able to identify who the suspect is, so it can take some time to get all the evidence back and a suspect identified," Logan said. "The other issue is after the incident is reported the victim does not want to proceed with the case."

In those situations, Logan said his department works to give sexual assault victims all the services available to help them through the process but said, ultimately, it is up to the victim to insist investigators follow through on a case.

While Glendening acknowledged that his office does occasionally investigate sex abuse charges that lack enough evidence or cooperation to successfully prosecute, he said a majority of the sex abuse incidents determined to be credible but that do not lead to an arrest occur because of the age of the suspects.

"The unfortunate truth is that many of these incidents involve children that are the suspects, some of which who have also been victims," Glendening said. "In these cases, we proceed with the investigation to determine the facts of the incident, and then consult with the family, treatment providers, and the County Attorney's Office. Typically, in cases such as these, it is determined that counseling is the best course of action, and not criminal prosecution."

While robberies were low enough to count with one hand in West Burlington and non-existent in the greater Des Moines County area during the last three years, Burlington police saw 38 reports filed, yet only made six arrests.

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Burlington also had a significantly higher amount of shots-fired reports than West Burlington and the rest of Des Moines County.

West Burlington had 19 shots-fired reports and 16 shots-fired arrests for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The Des Moines County Sheriff's Office filed 47 shots-fired reports and made 38 arrests during that same period.

But for Burlington police, of the 97 shots-fired reports filed, only 13 arrests were made.

Thus far in 2022, Burlington police have filed nearly 15 shots-fired reports and only made one arrest for a non-fatal shooting that happened in February.

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Denney acknowledged that shots-fired investigations can be particularly challenging and are a significant problem within city limits, especially when officers have little information to work with.

"Most of these instances are incredibly random. No targets are identified, and no property damage is located," Denney said. "These areas are notorious for not having camera coverage or other means to identify the suspects."

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Burlington Police Department crime statistics for 2019, 2020 and 2021

Animal Abuse

  • 2019: 1 incident report; 1 arrest

  • 2020: 1 incident report; 1 arrest

  • 2021: 4 incident reports; 3 arrests

Assaults (simple and aggravated)

  • 2019: 194 incident reports; 217 arrests

  • 2020: 209 incident reports; 212 arrests

  • 2021: 215 incident reports; 253 arrests

Burglaries

  • 2019: 229 incident reports; 29 arrests

  • 2020: 153 incident reports; 10 arrests

  • 2021: 138 incident reports; 23 arrests

Child Abuse/Neglect

  • 2019: 14 incident reports; 11 arrests

  • 2020: 12 incident reports; 11 arrests

  • 2021: 12 incident reports; 18 arrests

Disorderly Conduct

  • 2019: 91 incident reports; 72 arrests

  • 2020: 43 incident reports; 51 arrests

  • 2021: 22 incident reports; 26 arrests

Domestic Problems/Violence

  • 2019: 94 incident reports; 86 arrests

  • 2020: 126 incident reports; 102 arrests

  • 2021: 98 incident reports; 101 arrests

Drug Paraphernalia

  • 2019: 37 arrests

  • 2020: 33 arrests

  • 2021: 37 arrests

Drug Possession/Intent to Deliver

  • 2019: 179 arrests

  • 2020: 117 arrests

  • 2021: 179 arrests

Murders

  • 2019: 4 incident reports/arrests

  • 2020: 1 incident report/arrest

  • 2021: No incidents/arrests

OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated)

  • 2019: 74 incident reports; 68 arrests

  • 2020: 57 incident reports; 54 arrests

  • 2021: 68 incident reports; 67 arrests

Robberies

  • 2019: 15 incident reports; 4 arrests

  • 2020: 16 incident reports; 2 arrests

  • 2021: 7 incident reports; no arrests

Sex-related crimes

  • 2019: 30 incident reports; 7 arrests

  • 2020: 45 incident reports; 4 arrests

  • 2021: 45 incident reports; 2 arrests

Shots Fired

  • 2019: 40 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2020: 36 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2021: 21 incident reports; 1 arrest

Suicides Attempts

  • 2019: 10 incidents

  • 2020: 5 incidents

  • 2021: 8 incidents

Suicides

  • 2019: 2 incidents

  • 2020: 5 incidents

  • 2021: 3 incidents

Vandalism

  • 2019: 294 incident reports; 57 arrests

  • 2020: 364 incident reports; 41 arrests

  • 2021: 250 incident reports; 39 arrests

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West Burlington Police Department crime statistics for 2019, 2020 and 2021

Animal Abuse

  • 2019: no incident reports; no arrests

  • 2020: no incident reports; no arrests

  • 2021: no incident reports; no arrests

Assaults

  • 2019: 36 incident reports; 30 arrests

  • 2020: 28 incident reports; 16 arrests

  • 2021: 41 incident reports; 24 arrests

Burglaries

  • 2019: 26 incident reports; 1 arrest

  • 2020: 6 incident reports; 2 arrests

  • 2021: 21 incident reports; 3 arrests

Domestic Violence

  • 2019: 9 incident reports; 7 arrests

  • 2020: 22 incident reports; 16 arrests

  • 2021: 17 incident reports; 16 arrests

Drug/Narcotics and Equipment Violations

  • 2019: 42 incident reports; 40 arrests

  • 2020: 47 incident reports; 42 arrests

  • 2021: 36 incident reports; 32 arrests

Murders

  • 2019: no incident reports/arrests

  • 2020: no incident reports/arrests

  • 2021: 1 incident report/arrest

OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated)

  • 2019: 8 incident reports; 7 arrests

  • 2020: 16 incident reports; 16 arrests

  • 2021: 19 incident reports; 17 arrests

Robberies

  • 2019: 2 incident reports; no arrests

  • 2020: 1 incident report; no arrests

  • 2021: no incident reports; no arrests

Sex-related crimes

  • 2019: 1 incident report; no arrests

  • 2020: 2 incident reports; no arrests

  • 2021: 6 incident reports; 1 arrest

Shootings

  • 2019: no incidents; no arrests

  • 2020: no incidents; no arrests

  • 2021: 1 incident; 1 arrest

Shots Fired/Other Gun-related crimes

  • 2019: 6 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2020: 7 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2021: 6 incident reports; 4 arrests

Suicides

  • 2019: 1 incident

  • 2020: 4 incidents

  • 2021: no incidents

Thefts

  • 2019: 188 incidents reports; 112 arrests

  • 2020: 133 incident reports; 81 arrests

  • 2021: 136 incident reports; 69 arrests

Vandalism

  • 2019: 21 incident reports; 5 arrests

  • 2020: 23 incident reports; 5 arrests

  • 2021: 25 incident reports; 7 arrests

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Des Moines County Sheriff's Office crime statistics for 2019, 2020 and 2021

Animal Bites

  • 2019: 27 incident reports

  • 2020: 22 incident reports

  • 2021: 13 incident reports

Animal Calls

  • 2019: 14 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2020: 4 incident reports; 2 arrests

  • 2021: 3 incident reports; 1 arrest

Animal Cruelty

  • 2019: no incident reports; no arrests

  • 2020: no incident reports; no arrests

  • 2021: 1 incident report; no arrests

Assaults (aggravated, assault on law enforcement, simple, serious)

  • 2019: 41 incident reports; 34 arrests

  • 2020: 33 incident reports; 27 arrests;

  • 2021: 31 incident reports; 23 arrests;

Burglaries

  • 2019: 60 incident reports; 16 arrests;

  • 2020: 49 incident reports; 6 arrests;

  • 2021: 41 incident reports; 14 arrests

Child Endangerment

  • 2019: 1 incident reports; no arrests

  • 2020: 3 incidents reports; 1 arrest

  • 2021: no incident; no arrests

Disorderly Conduct

  • 2019: 6 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2020: 5 incident reports; 5 arrests

  • 2021: 5 incident reports; 4 arrests

Domestic Violence

  • 2019: 21 incident reports; 18 arrests

  • 2020: 25 incident reports; 16 arrests

  • 2021: 21 incident reports; 20 arrests

Drug Equipment Violations

  • 2019: 21 incident reports; 16 arrests

  • 2020: 21 incident reports; 19 arrests

  • 2021: 15 incident reports; 14 arrests

Drug/Narcotics Violations

  • 2019: 46 incident reports; 37 arrests

  • 2020: 88 incident reports; 79 arrests

  • 2021: 88 incident reports; 83 arrests

Murders

  • 2019: no incident reports/arrests

  • 2020: no incident reports/arrests

  • 2021: no incident report/arrest

OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated)

  • 2019: 28 incident reports; 27 arrests;

  • 2020: 32 incident reports; 32 arrests

  • 2021: 34 incident reports; 33 arrests

Robberies

  • 2019: no incident reports; no arrests

  • 2020: no incident report; no arrests

  • 2021: no incident reports; no arrests

Sex-related crimes

  • 2019: 22 incident reports; 9 arrests

  • 2020: 22 incident reports; 3 arrests;

  • 2021: 17 incident reports; 2 arrests

Suicides

  • 2019: 3 incidents

  • 2020: 2 incidents

  • 2021: 3 incidents

Thefts

  • 2019: 51 incidents reports; 15 arrests;

  • 2020: 65 incident reports; 12 arrests;

  • 2021: 52 incident reports; 17 arrests;

Vandalism

  • 2019: 27 incident reports; 11 arrests

  • 2020: 27 incident reports; 10 arrests

  • 2021: 32 incident reports; 5 arrests

Weapons Laws Violations

  • 2019: 6 incident reports; 6 arrests

  • 2020: 25 incident reports; 19 arrests;

  • 2021: 17 incidents; 13 arrests

This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Crime stats from past three years show Burlington area relatively safe

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