Local law enforcement agencies credit joint task force with declining crime rates

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 3 at 6:19 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Law enforcement agencies across the Inland Northwest came together to highlight the team effort they’re making to bring down burglaries in the area.

The six departments from Eastern Washington and North Idaho say they’ve teamed up to encourage citizens to report more crimes, making for a major drop in burglaries in the last year.

Many burglary victims often worry their stolen property may not be returned. It’s led some to take matters into their own hands, but leaders of the Property Crime Task Force say they’re making a difference.

“Intelligence-led policing works. I have no doubt about it,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Numbers released Wednesday by the sheriff show a drop by more than 50 percent in residential burglaries in the unincorporated part of the county, when comparing the first quarter of 2013 to the same time last year. That’s in addition to a 38 percent drop in garage burglaries from 2012 to 2013, but commercial burglaries are up in that range.

Overall, the agencies say team effort is bringing results.

“The criminal element that we’re dealing with doesn’t recognize the jurisdictional boundaries that our cities do,” Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus said.

A staff member for the sheriff’s office will keep in contact with all the agencies involved and share information with each member of the task force.

“The advantage of having a task force or specialized unit is to focus a group of individuals to a specific problem,” Spokane Police Chief Straub said.

Despite the progress, law enforcement says they’re only so much they can do if a convicted criminal gets a short sentence in jail.

“Just how many times do we have to arrest somebody before we actually get rid of our repeat offenders,” Sheriff Knezovich said.

As for residents protecting themselves because they don’t feel confident police can respond in time, Sheriff Knezovich says citizens need to trust them and report a crime.

“It works when you give us a call. It really does,” he said.

Sheriff Knezovich adds if citizens look at the date over the last ten years, they would find the rates would be around the same level. He assures crime hasn’t suddenly gotten much worse in recent months.

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