By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Napavine, Toledo and Mossyrock have the lowest crime rates of any incorporated Lewis County city, taking into account both violent crime and property crime, according to data collected and released recently by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, which lists a breakdown of reported crimes in each city in Washington in 2016.
Meanwhile, Centralia and Chehalis show higher incidences of property crimes, including burglaries, thefts, motor vehicle theft and arson.
“Property crime is an issue for us,” said Chief Carl Nielsen, of the Centralia Police Department. “That’s a challenge.”
While the statistics give insight into the state of crime in Lewis County, Chief Glenn Schaffer, of the Chehalis Police Department, cautioned that numbers don’t tell the whole story.
“I’m more concerned with watching what happens on a day to day basis in my department,” he said.
Schaffer said crime rates can be easily skewed by a few troublemakers in a town with a small population.
“There can be one individual that can raise or lower that over the course of the year,” he said.
He also noted that the FBI UCR data lists reported crimes, rather than confirmed incidents or adjudicated court cases.
The FBI study did not calculate the crime rates of the individual cities.
Crime rate is typically calculated by dividing the total number of crimes committed by the total population of a given city, then multiplying that number by 100,000 to give the number of crimes per 100,000 population.
However, due to the size of cities in Lewis County, The Chronicle calculated the crime rate to give the number of crimes per 10,000 population.
Calculating a crime rate allows data for cities of varying populations to be compared accurately.
According to the FBI report, Centralia had 68 reported violent crimes in 2016, including one murder, 10 reported rapes, 22 robberies and 35 aggravated assaults.
With an estimated population in the FBI report of 16,785, that gives Centralia a violent crime rate of 40.5 per 10,000 population.
In neighboring Chehalis, 15 violent crimes were reported in 2016, including two rapes, four robberies and nine aggravated assaults. Given a population of 7,417, Chehalis’ violent crime rate is 20.2 per 10,000 population.
Centralia had 1,022 reported property crimes in 2016 for a rate of 600 per 10,000 compared to Chehalis, which had 619 total reported property crimes, or a slightly higher rate of 831 per 10,000 population.
The Centralia Police Department has recently revamped a community policing program intended to decrease property crime in the city’s neighborhoods. So far, Nielsen said feedback has been good but turnover in staffing has affected the program.
“We’re trying to take a proactive approach,” he said.
Nielsen also said the city’s online reporting system for non-emergency crimes could increase the number of reported property crimes.
In Lewis County’s smaller incorporated cities, the crime rates are significantly lower than in the Twin Cities.
Napavine had no reported violent crimes in 2016. With 13 reported property crimes and a population of 1,794, the city has the lowest property crime rate in Lewis County with 74.2 per 10,000 population.
Toledo also had no reported violent crimes and with 10 reported property crimes — all thefts — and a population of 727, the city comes in with the county’s second-lowest property crime rate at 137.5 per 100,000 population.
“Well it’s got great people in it first off,” said Toledo Police Chief John Brockmueller. “As far as the police department goes, it’s got to be mentioned that because of this arrangement with Winlock and having both cities work together it puts an officer in a car 20 hours a day.”
Since 2015, Winlock has contracted with Toledo for police services. The extra funding has allowed the department to double the hours officers spend on duty, Brockmueller said.
Winlock had three reported violent crimes in 2016 and a population of 1,317 for a rate of 22.7/10,000. The city had 30 reported property crimes for a rate of 227.7 per 10,000 population.
In East Lewis County, Morton had one reported violent crime and 22 property crimes for 2016. With a population of 1,129, that puts its violent crime rate at 8.8 per 10,000 and its property crime rate at 194.8 per 10,000.
Mossyrock had no reported violent crimes in 2016. With 13 reported property crimes and a population of 749, the town has the third-lowest property-crime rate in the county with 173.5 per 10,000 population.
Mossyrock does not have its own police department, but contracts with the City of Morton for police services.
“I think we have a pretty good community in Mossyrock and we’ve been pretty proactive,” said Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar. “(If) they see something out of the ordinary they call us.”
Morningstar also credited an increased presence in Mossyrock and the use of reserve officers for the town’s good stats.
To see the FBI’s full list of Washington cities and reported crimes for 2016, go to https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6-state-cuts/washington.xls