Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jul 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: Joe Biesk, Associated Press


FRANKFORT -- Crime was down in Kentucky in 2004. Or crime was up in 
Kentucky. It depends on perspective and the interpretation of the 
statistics provided in the annual report compiled by the Kentucky State Police.

Kentucky State Police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski cautioned against drawing 
too many conclusions from the report, despite its volume and detail.

"I don't think you can say anything about a crime trend based on one 
year," Rudzinski said.

But there is a snapshot that can be viewed, and while parts of it may 
seem encouraging, the overall view is of a state still troubled by 
crime, especially drugs.

The focus of "Crime in Kentucky -- 2004" is on so-called Part One 
crimes, the eight types of offenses identified by federal authorities 
as the most serious. They are murder, rape, robbery, aggravated 
assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson.

Reported crimes in four of those eight categories increased from 2003 
to 2004, though the overall number declined slightly from 114,423 to 
113,635, a drop of 0.7 percent. Murder, rape, robbery and auto theft 
all increased from the previous year.

The 216 murders in 2004 was the highest number since 1998, when it was 237.

The biggest drop, in real numbers, was in the assault category. The 
largest percentage drop was in arson crimes.

The flip side, though, was in a category not officially counted in 
the federal statistic. Arrests for drug offenses rose dramatically 
from 36,551 in 2003 to 40,793 in 2004, the report said. There were a 
total of 252,298 arrests in Kentucky in 2004.

Statistically, drug crimes are almost impossible to quantify. Unlike 
a crime with a specific victim who might report the offense, a person 
snorting cocaine isn't reporting it to police. Officials are left 
with only the arrest figures.

Rudzinski said the increase in drug arrests might not indicate higher 
usage, but more concentrated efforts to arrest offenders. "We're 
getting more of it," Rudzinski explained.

But there is also a central truth about drugs that underlies the numbers.

Whether it's the killing during a deal gone bad or the auto theft to 
underwrite a habit, "The majority of crime in Kentucky is the result 
of drugs," Rudzinski said.

Solving crime is another matter altogether.

The report notes that 57 percent of violent crimes are solved. 
Conversely, less than 20 percent of property crimes are solved.

"I think it's accurate to say crime is down, serious crime," Rudzinski said.

One set of statistics tucked into the back of the 117-page report, 
though it is a peripheral law enforcement issue, is less ambiguous.

Of the 14,309 law enforcement officers in Kentucky in 2004, from 
state police to local agencies and fish and wildlife enforcement, 
only 1,168 of them were women. While women make up more than half of 
the population, they account for barely 8 percent of the law 
enforcement contingent.

Rudzinski, one of only 32 females among the 943 sworn KSP officers, 
said the figure is especially discouraging. Progress has been slow. 
Rudzinski said she was one of 28 females in the KSP when she started 
in 1993 -- four fewer than last year.

Mark R. Chellgren is the Frankfort correspondent for The Associated Press.
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