This is the first of a two-part series. Next week will feature Idaho County crime statistics.
A reduction in crime in Lewis County can be credited in part to a more observant public, says Lewis County Sheriff Jason Davis.
The Idaho State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Identification recently released its compilation of statistics from 108 law enforcement agencies across Idaho.
Based on the report, Group A crime dropped 33% in Lewis County.
Davis said criminals don’t like being watched so the more eyes that are on them, the more heat it puts on them so they look for areas with less presence. I would give the public a huge pat on the back, he said. “Businesses and private homeowners are putting new security systems up. These are deterring crime.
“Additional reasons for decline in crime rate would be that individuals responsible for many of those statistics were apprehended thus preventing further violations,” said Davis.
Davis noted that drug arrests continue to go up and part of it is related to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. People forget the drug is illegal in Idaho and leave their dope in the vehicle only to be discovered during traffic stops.
An uptick in arrests began in 2013 when the county made 13 drug related arrests, up from an average of 5.3 over the previous six years. Those higher numbers have persisted through 2016.
Drugs involve a huge part of crimes committed nationally and statewide, noted Davis. It’s involved in larceny and burglary cases as people try to steal items for cash they can use to feed addictions.
It creates what Davis calls a power vacuum. When police arrest a drug dealer it creates a void whereby another person moves in. He likened the cyclical action to an apprenticeship program whereby illegal behavior is passed along continuously.
The longer than usual winter likely factored into reduced offenses as well.
“For the most part we’re not a lot different than years past,” reflected Kamiah Chief Marshal Kirt Gaston about criminal activity. “We’ll have an uptick in a certain thing and then in something else. A lot of that is weather related.”
Gaston said there were more burglaries than normal during the past winter. He added that DUIs have been a point of emphasis for the KMO. “Alcohol kills a lot of people nationwide. If we can prevent one accident here in Kamiah I’m happy,” said Gaston.
When asked about previous reports of 25 drug houses in Kamiah as stated by former Lewis County Sheriff Brian Brokop, Gaston said he doesn’t believe it’s that high. He said there are flop houses where people go to hang out, but a drug house is “a place where drugs are being cultivated, sold, dealt from. Those numbers can change daily. I don’t believe we’ve ever had 25 in the city of Kamiah. I would say currently we have three that we are actively looking at,” he stated.
Gaston noted that the homeless in Kamiah are responsible for much of the city’s drug activity. These homeless are not the kind who live on the streets, but are people who don’t have funds for their own place so they bunk at different homes on almost a nightly basis. He said more resources directed at assisting them and an improved economy could help.