WATERLOO — Crime in rural Black Hawk County saw a slight decrease in 2017, according to statistics released by the sheriff’s office Tuesday.
Overall Group A and B offenses — ranging from murder to public intoxication — went from 670 in 2016 to 657 last year, according to the numbers, which include crimes in rural Black Hawk County as well as the communities of Hudson, Gilbertville, Dunkerton and La Porte City.
“This year’s annual report continues to demonstrate an overall reduction in index crimes and a generally reduced demand on routine sheriff’s office approaches in rural Black Hawk County,” said Sheriff Tony Thompson.
After a robbery-free 2016, the county saw one robbery last year. Burglary was down from 72 to 68, and auto theft went from 15 to 11. Also seeing a drop was rape, which went from 10 in 2016 to seven last year. There were no murders reported in 2016 and 2017.
Larceny was up significantly, with 80 incidents in 2017 compared with 67 in 2016.
Thompson said this was because a small number of people were committing a large number of thefts.
Also up was aggravated assault, which went from three to six.
Despite a drop in crime both in the rural areas as well as inside Waterloo, bookings at the jail were up by more than 100 — from 7,074 to 7,199 — and the average daily population at the 272-bed jail grew from 216 to 228.
Thompson said this was because more people with serious crimes are in custody — which can translate into longer jail stays before trial — and because of the mental health crisis.
“The mentally ill can’t necessarily post bond or aren’t connected well enough to navigate the court systems efficiently, so they end up getting caught in our jail,” Thompson said.
“A lot of the times they are committing the crimes because they are mentally ill, not because they are trying to be aberrant or trying to be contrary to the law.”