State rape numbers dramatlically increased in 2018 while local rates varied across Iron Range communities, according to a state crime report released last week.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on Monday released the 2018 Uniform Crime Report, where local law enforcement agencies report annual crime data. The BCA collects and interprets the numbers, and submits the statewide report to the FBI.
Among the biggest jumps in reported crimes from 2017 to 2018, according to the report, was a 9.3 percent statewide increase in rapes in 2018, the highest level in 24 years. In raw numbers, there were 2,656 reports of rape in 2018 as compared to 2,429 in 2017.
Meanwhile, total violent crimes, defined as murder, rape, robbery, human trafficking and aggravated assault, decreased by 6.7 percent in 2018. That included murders decreasing from 114 in 2017 to 104 in 2018, with robberies and aggravated assaults each declining respectively.
The data is broken down to show data for statewide, county and local agencies.
With regards to the rape statistics in 2018, St. Louis County reported there were 93 actual reports, of which 36 were cleared. The crime rate was 47 rapes per 100,000 people in a county that reported about 200,000 people living in its borders in 2017.
Of counties within close population of St. Louis County, according to the state Demographic Center, rape rates were similar. Washington County (population 256,905) reported 80 actual reports, 33 cleared and a rate of 31 per 100,000 people, a significantly better rate than St. Louis.
But in counties with smaller populations, the rates drew closer. Stearns County (population 157,660) reported 84 actual reports, 35 cleared and a rate of 48 per 100,000. Olmsted County (population 155,849) reported 78 actual, 30 cleared and a rate of 50.
Throughout St. Louis County, departments reported their actual, cleared and crime rate. Here’s the data for actual reports and cleared per agency, according to the BCA report:
• St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department reported 14 actual reports of which 1 was cleared.
• Babbitt Police Department: 0 reports
• Chisholm Police Department: 0 reports
• Duluth Police Department: 45 reports, 19 cleared
• East Range Police Department: 4 reports, 2 cleared
• Ely Police Department: 1 report, 0 cleared
• Eveleth Police Department: 0 reports
• Gilbert Police Department: 0 reports
• Hibbing Police Department: 13 reports, 7 cleared
• Virginia Police Department: 9 reports, 6 cleared
• Proctor Police Department: 3 reports, 1 cleared
• Floodwood Police Department: 0 reports
• Hermantown Police Department: 4 reports, 0 cleared
• University of Minnesota-Duluth Police Department: 0 reports
• Breitung Township: 0 reports
The statewide decline in rapes varied across the agencies from 2017 to 2018. Those reporting increased rape numbers in 2018 included Duluth (31 in 2017 to 45 in 2018), Ely (0 to 1), Hibbing (7 to 13), Proctor (0 to 3), Hermantown (3 to 4) and the East Range (2 to 4).
Conversely, some agencies did see lower actual reported rapes: Eveleth (3 in 2017 to 0 in 2018), Virginia (10 to 9); Breitung Township, (1 to 0).
The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department had 14 reports in both 2017 and 2018.
“As far as rapes (Part I Crimes) in 2018 we had zero,” said Eveleth Chief of Police Tim Koivunen over email this week. “We did however have six ‘Other Sex Offenses’ listed under Part II Crimes for 2018. Of these reported crimes, four complaints were fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct (gross misdemeanor) of which there was one arrest and three cleared.”
The other 2 reported complaints involved an indecent exposure complaint that was cleared and a predatory offender failing to register which we referred for charges but was dismissed by the county attorney.”
The complaints cleared involved elderly residents of nursing homes, Koivunen said. He noted the complaints are turned over to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, but most should not come to the Eveleth department. Regardless, he creates a case number.
“They are usually always unfounded or should be handled internally by the facility and staff such as two 80 year old residents yelling at each other,” he said.
As for the rape statistics, Koviunen agrees with the data trend locally that reports have not recently fluctuated much year to year. Virginia Police Chief Nicole Mattson said she had yet to review the new data.
“We are fairly consistent each year with 0-3 reports of actual rape,” Koivunen said. “Each case is different with circumstances and results. I would say we are fortunate in Eveleth with great resources especially from Executive Director Jeannie Olson from the Sexual Assault Program of Northeast MN.”
For more information on the Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County, visit their website at www.stopsexualviolence.org, or office at 327 1st St S, Suite 17 in Virginia. They are available 24/7 by calling or texting 218-780-7227.
As for other overall numbers in the report, property crime offenses also decreased in 2018, with burglary, larceny and arson offenses shrinking compared to rates in 2017. Property crimes made up more then 90 percent of the reported crime in 2018. Motor vehicle theft, by contrast, increased for the third year in a row.
Human trafficking reports involving commercial sex acts increased by 5.8 percent from 173 cases in 2017 to 183 reports in 2018.
Arson numbers dropped to their lowest number since the state began tracking arson crimes, according to the BCA.
The Forum News Service contributed to this reporting.