Crime is up in McPherson County, Sheriff Larry Powell said and statistics confirm.
“There’s so much stress, pressure. (There’s been) a dramatic increase in domestic violence,” Powell said.
In the first four months of 2009, the sheriff’s office has dealt with four cases of reported domestic battery. There were 18 cases reported in the whole of 2008. In 2005 through 2007, however, there were only either four or five cases reported for each year.
Powell said he believed the state of the economy was driving more people to crime as options run out for those experiencing layoffs or other financial situations.
Five cases of arson have also been reported from January through April this year, compared with a total of two reported cases in 2008, three in 2007 and zero in 2006.
Burglary has been increasing since 2006, when there were 23 cases. In 2007, 36 cases were reported and in 2008, 45 cases were reported.
Other crimes, though, may be trending up regardless of the economy.
Driving under the influence (DUI) has seen the greatest increase over the past few years.
In 2004, eight DUI’s were reported. In 2005, 10 cases were reported. Fourteen cases were reported in both 2006 and 2007.
In 2008, the number of DUI cases jumped to 43 and in the first four months of 2009, 37 cases have been reported.
“(It) seems like there are more people driving under the influence,” Powell said.
Stepped up enforcement was also a factor in the rise of cases, Powell said.
The number of DUI’s handled by the county sheriff stands in contrast to the number of DUI’s handled by the McPherson Police Department — which was 98 in 2007 and 107 in 2008 —  and not nearly the increase shown in the county.
McPherson Police Chief Dennis Shaw said that in city many offenses, such as DUI’s, tended to occur in consistent numbers from year to year.
While that is true, DUI’s in the city have been trending upward in recent years, with 63 in 2002 and 107 in 2008. The city’s five-year DUI average is 90.60 while its seven year average is 84.14.
Shaw also said he is continually surprised by the number of third-time offenders the department sees. The city had 10 third-time DUI convictions in 2008, with a five-year average of 8.40.