Anyone who lives and works in Findlay and Hancock County should be concerned about the area’s crime rate.
When it comes to criminal activity, there’s good news, and bad.
The good news, as reported on Saturday’s front page, is that Findlay was generally a safer place in 2017 than it was in either 2016 or 2015.
The most common crimes — shoplifting, fraud, and theft — were down in 2017, as were domestic disputes, criminal damaging and vandalism complaints, and assaults.
Only two categories of crime data used to calculate the city’s crime rate rose in 2017: sex offenses and motor vehicle thefts.
Unfortunately, the decrease in theft, property damage and violent crime only tells part of the story.
Drug-related incidents were up in Findlay in part because of the opioid epidemic, and contributed to a record number of felony drug indictments filed in Hancock County last year.
While stats show alcohol offenses rose only slightly, from 39 offenses in 2016 to 44 in 2017, drug offenses skyrocketed during the same period, rising from 431 in 2016 to 560 in 2017 — an increase of 129 incidents.
Even though the drug incidents are not included in the crime rate report because the FBI incorporates them in a separate one, the extent of the area’s drug problems can’t be overlooked.
Police and prosecutors say it’s not always possible to separate drug activity from other crimes like break-ins and thefts, and even assaults and domestic violence. Someone who is addicted to drugs, for example, may steal to support a drug habit.
Findlay’s crime figures correlate with national trends from the FBI. Nonviolent crimes are down across the country, and some violent crimes are up slightly. Growing drug problems, especially those related to opioids, are not unique to Findlay or Ohio. The epidemic is a national one.
Among the police department’s goals this year, according to Police Chief John Dunbar, are to reduce the crime rate and the officers’ response time to “in-progress” calls. Having officers on patrol whenever possible, instead of stationary at the station, should help the department meet those goals.
But preventing crime will likely take more than just police action, however. Police can only do so much to deter crime. More community block watch groups will need to form and be vigilant while assisting police. More push back will be needed against drug houses.
Findlay remains a relatively safe community, but it is not the same city that it used to be. The crimes occurring here, in many cases, are the same kinds that take place in bigger cities.
Last month, a fight outside a bar resulted in a man’s death. The most recent grand jury led to the indictment of 14 people, 10 of them on felony drug charges, most involving opioids.
Findlay may be growing, but that doesn’t mean its crime rate has to.