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Sandy Journal

Sandy City in top three juvenile arrest rates over last five years

Jul 18, 2016 11:44AM ● By Chris Larson

For all except one of the last five years of publicly available data, Sandy City had the second highest juvenile arrest rate per capita in Salt Lake County.

Police departments in Utah report crime data to the Utah Department of Public Safety and to the FBI using the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) and FBI's newer National Incident-based Reporting System (NIBRS). UCR reports the highest FBI-assigned priority crime in an incident as a summary of multiple crimes committed and the incident-based method catalogs all crimes on a certain index at an incident.

According to Sandy City Police Administrative Sgt. Dean Carriger, Sandy polices uses the NIBRS, a newer reporting system, to report its crime stats.

West Valley Police Department reports having the highest juvenile arrest rate per 1,000 of base population over the last five years. The Murray Police Department reported having a higher juvenile arrest rate than Sandy City in 2011, based on data from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification’s Crime in Utah Reports.

In 2014, Sandy City had a juvenile arrest rate of 7.94 arrest per 1,000 people. West Valley City held the top spot for the last five years with a 2014 juvenile arrest rate of 9.86 per 1,000 people.

In 2011, Murray saw a juvenile arrest rate of 13.42 per 1,000 people and Sandy a 11.3 per 1,000 people; West Valley City’s juvenile arrest rate was 13.76 per 1,000 people in 2011

Carriger doubts the total accuracy of the crime report to truly reflect criminality and law enforcement in Utah, noting that there is a degree of subjectivity and variance in how and what reporting police departments record in their crime stats.

"There are various aspects there as well with the makeup of the community that influence crime data,” Carriger said. “Not knowing the makeup of the community misses a lot in data.”

The 2014 Crime in Utah Report and other Crime in Utah Reports all have a similar statement: "This report reflects crime in Utah as far as it is completely and accurately reported by local law enforcement agencies to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.”

Carriger believe having two high schools, The Shops at South Towne, Jordan Commons, Rio Tinto Stadium and a series of other businesses attract youth from several surrounding cities to Sandy City, which potentially leads to having more youth in the city and that can mean more youth that get arrested. Also, Carriger said the crime reports don’t necessarily account if the suspect arrested is a resident youth.  

Despite the fixation at the number two top spot, the overall juvenile arrest rate for most reporting agencies in Salt Lake County show a declining juvenile arrest rate. Only Bluffdale City, Draper City and South Jordan City Police Departments show any increases in juvenile arrest rates.

Sandy also has a lower-half-of-the-pack overall crime rate — coming in around sixth highest in the county over the last five years — and middle-of-the-pack adult arrest rate that only show slight variance over the last five years.

Carriger believes the data show a greater than normal diligence on the part of Sandy police officers to thoroughly investigate juvenile crimes that conclude with an arrest.

The "2015 Crime in Utah Report" won't be available until later in the year. However, the expectation is that the trends will generally hold true, according to a Department of Safety spokesperson.

Adult arrest rates for most agencies in the county are steady, fluctuating from year to year. Only West Valley Police Department reported a major increase in five years of data with a sudden bump in 2014's arrest rate.

Jackie Chamberlain, public information officer for the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services, said Utah is part of a national trend that is seeing the arrest rates for juveniles decrease substantially over the past few years.

"Our hope is that the system is doing better job treating youth so the don’t recidivate," Chamberlain said. "Law enforcement knows more now than they did in the 90s when they would arrest juveniles rather than cite them."

Chamberlain cited a 2014 National Center for Juvenile Justice report showing that many arrest stats for crimes indexed by the UCR decreased from peaking near the turn of the century, many reaching historic lows.

Citing youth, rather than arresting them for certain crimes, appears to have played some part in improving youth recidivism as they mature, according to Chamberlain.

Individual youth recidivism usually drops after each juvenile arrest generally, Carriger said. He said that the high juvenile arrest rate in Sandy means a higher rate of Sandy youth getting access to state resources provided for the juvenile justice system.