Aspen police: crime flat in 2007 |

Aspen police: crime flat in 2007

Joel Stonington
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen saw fewer thefts and more assaults in 2007, according to statistics released Monday by the Aspen Police Department.

“From our point of view, Aspen is a safe place,” said Police Chief Richard Pryor. “But it doesn’t mean you can shelve your common sense.”

Reported assaults in Aspen rose from 61 in 2006 to 82 last year, a 34 percent increase.

Pryor said it was unclear whether that meant there was more violence last year since the number of disorderly conduct charges dropped. In all, total attacks against people had only a 5 percent rise from 2006 to 2007.

While assaults have risen, there were 325 thefts in 2007, down from 388 in 2006. Pryor credited the decrease in thefts to heads-up thinking in the community.

Still, Pryor pointed to an increase in fraud of nearly 25 percent to show that there still is room for people to be more aware. He suggested that businesses should check identification more often when charging credit cards, especially on big ticket items

“From a police perspective, it makes sense,” Pryor said. “I appreciate it when people ask for an ID. They are helping to minimize fraud.”

All told, Aspen police responded to 17,034 calls for service in 2007, nearly 200 fewer than the 17,034 calls in 2006. Total arrests were slightly up, at 400 last year compared to 372 in 2006. The report did not include data on how many arrests led to convictions.

A noticeable difference can be seen in car stops, with an increase of 16 percent from 2006 to 2007. Similarly, driving-under-the-influence arrests were up last year nearly 40 percent, police data shows.

Pryor said he informally encouraged officers to make more car stops and be alert for possibly intoxicated drivers.

“It’s an important part of the job,” Pryor said. “In the city survey last year, the safety of crossing Main Street came up as an issue. Enforcement is only one part of it.”

Pryor said he has talked to nearly every officer on the force one-on-one, about the direction of the department, since taking over as chief in mid-December.

He said things are going smoothly following turbulent times for the police department; nearly a third of the department left in 2007, including former Police Chief Loren Ryerson, who resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation.

And of the six new officers hired in 2007, one was fired for allegedly being drunk on the job and another resigned.

The department still has two assistant chief positions and a detective position vacant. Pryor said he wanted to speak with everyone on the force before filling the vacant chief positions, likely from the department’s ranks, by the beginning of April.

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