Police: Stats show Aspen is ‘really safe place to live’ | AspenTimes.com

Police: Stats show Aspen is ‘really safe place to live’

For Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn, crime statistics from 2017 should convey one major thing for city residents.

"I hope when the public sees these (statistics), they go, 'Man, Aspen's a really safe place to live,'" Linn said Friday.

The total number of crimes against persons — which includes assaults, harassment and disorderly conduct — fell from 248 total cases in 2016 to 228 cases last year, according to the statistics released by the Aspen Police Department on Friday. The number of assaults fell from 42 in 2016 to 33 in 2017, while instances of harassment fell from 100 to 86.

The only violent crime category that registered an increase over 2016 was menacing, which went from two in 2016 to eight in 2017, according to the statistics.

The total number of property crimes fell too, with 631 total cases in 2016 versus 584 last year. Burglaries did increase a bit, however, rising to 29 total cases in 2017 from 24 in 2016.

The one category that did increase significantly in 2017 was the total number of traffic stops by Aspen police officers, which rose from 3,189 in 2016 to 7,157 in 2017.

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Aspen Assistant Chief Linda Consuegra attributes the increase to the department's hiring of five new officers over the past two years. New officers tend to pull over more people, which increases community safety in the form of getting more drunk drivers off the road and enforcing traffic safety, she said.

"You always see that (with new officers)," Consuegra said.

Not surprisingly, the number of DUI tickets handed out by city officers rose from 45 in 2016 to 58 in 2017.

Another area that saw an uptick was the number of juvenile cases, which increased from six total cases in 2016 to 21 last year. Those include underage possession of alcohol and drugs as well as curfew violations. Linn said the total increase was because officers contacted two or three groups of juveniles last year rather than predominantly individuals in 2016.

Another area that saw a significant increase was the number of mental health cases and welfare checks logged by officers, according to the statistics. Welfare checks rose from 88 in 2016 to 110 in 2017, while the number of mental health cases went from 35 in 2016 to 171 last year.

That increase can be attributed to the department's new human services officer, Andy Atkinson, who maintains contacts with the area's homeless population and attempts to help them and get them access to services, Consuegra said. Coupled with a new effort by Pitkin County to better address mental health services and a new grant in that area, those efforts should continue in the future and hopefully show decreases in areas like assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in the city, she said.

Finally, anyone who spent time in Aspen this summer won't be surprised that the number of bear incidents logged by city officers rose from 219 in 2016 to 615 during last year's summer of bears.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

aspen police stats

Incident 2016 2017

Assaults: 42, 33

Burglaries: 24, 29

DUIs: 45, 58

Juvenile cases: 6, 21

Traffic stops: 3,189, 7,157

Bear calls: 219, 615