Although crime rates in Marana rose slightly in 2016, the overall numbers are positive as crime is down over the past six years.
Six years ago Terry Rozema took over as the chief of the Marana Police Department and he admits there were challenges. Six years later the population of the town has grown by nearly 8,000 people, but crime is down.
In 2011 there were 53 P1 violent crimes, crimes designated by the FBI as violent crimes, in Marana or 1.48 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. In 2016 there were 41 violent crimes or 0.94 violent crimes per 1,000 people. Although the numbers are up slightly over the past two years, they are still lower than 2011-2013.
The big change in the numbers stemmed from a rise in robberies. There were 16 robberies in 2016 compared to just 11 total the two previous years. The good news is that all 16-robbery cases were solved and Rozema said that is important not just to find the culprit but to make sure the local businesses feel safe.
“There is a lot of work that goes into solving a robbery case when all you have is a very bad picture of somebody or a picture of somebody’s face that is covered up,” Rozema said.
Homicides and aggravated assaults were down. There was one homicide in 2016, compared to two in 2015, though both homicides in 2015 were justified. One was a police officer involved shooting and the other was ruled self defense in a domestic violence incident.
“Those aren’t the kind of homicides you might see in other jurisdictions like a drive by shooting or something of that nature,” Rozema said.
There were 20 aggravated assaults in 2016 down three from the year before.
Sexual assaults rose from five to seven last year.
Rozema explained that the MPD not only puts a lot of time trying to solve violent crimes in the town but also making sure that crime is accurately reported. He said while the philosophy of the department is to initially believe those making reports that they also look into things that do not make sense. He pointed specifically to a recent report of a stolen vehicle that was actually dumped by the owner after it was damaged in an accident and a person who reported an assault, but actually fell while intoxicated and could not remember how they were actually hurt. In the case of the would-be assault victim, they went so far as to track down a person they were chatting on-line with overseas who witnessed the person fall during their drunken late night chat.
Rozema also noted that violent crimes are the best way to look at how safe or dangerous a community is because of a greater accuracy in reporting. He said that someone may not report a property crime they did not think was important but few people skip on reporting violent crimes.
“If you are robbed, you are going to report it,” Rozema said. “That is not like somebody stole the pink flamingo out of your front yard, you might not report that. Thefts are not a great indicator but violent crimes are. Homicides are going to get reported, robberies are going to get reported.”
Property crime was up slightly last year than in 2015 but still remained lower than any of the other previous four years. Due to a rash of car break-ins property crime rose from 977 (23.45 per 1,000) to 1,057 (24.16 per 1,000). By way of comparison, in 2011 there were 1,382 property crimes or 38.54 per 1,000 residents.
The only crime category that was up was larceny, which is directly attributed to the car break-ins that took place over a 3 ½ months. According to Rozema, there were three very organized cells working in the Marana area and breaking into cars. Arrests were made than to the combined efforts of MPD detectives and the Direct Action Response Team that do “very targeted, specific investigations.”
All other property crimes are down slightly from 2015. Burglaries dropped from 70 to 68, shoplifting from 439 to 414, and motor vehicle thefts declined slightly from 39 to 38. There were two cases of Arson in each of the past two years, down from six each in 2013 and 2014.
Rozema believes a lot of the drop in crime is due to high visibility of Marana Police Officers and the fact that officers respond to every call.