Hansen: ‘not an increase in crime, just a change in how the crime is counted’

By Paxtyn Merten, News Editor

By scanning the recent Mountlake Terrace 2012 crime report shows a total of 649 crimes, it would seem as if the amount of crime has been gradually rising since 2009 when the total was 564.

Mountlake Terrace Police Dept. (MTPD) Commander Doug Hansen said that this is not actually the case.

“What you’re seeing is not an increase in crime, just a change in how the crime is counted. It’s not really an increase, it’s a more accurate total,” Hansen said.

The change in how crimes are counted started in 2011. Called the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), this system counts things that were not included in the former system, which was known as the Uniform Criminal Report (UCR).

For instance, the old system counted one crime as one occurrence. The new system, however, counts the total number of crimes as the number of victims affected. For example, if there was a burglary of a house where five people lived, the crime report would count that as five crimes, whereas before it would only be counted as one.

Also, there is an additional charge being counted towards the total under NIBRS, which was unaccounted for previously. The number of simple assaults now gets added to the grand total, making it both higher and more accurate.

Hansen predicts another year similar to these, consisting of very close to the same number of crimes. He also expects the types of crimes to stay persistent, with a significantly larger amount of property crime than violent crime.

The most common crimes in MLT in 2012 were burglary and larceny.

Mountlake Terrace is a “bedroom community”, meaning it is mostly made up of homes, not businesses. As opposed to cities like Lynnwood, burglaries are more common than other means of theft because there are more houses to steal from than businesses.

To lower amounts of burglary, inserting alarm systems, or even just making sure doors and windows are locked, are adequate precautions. No precaution is completely foolproof, but simple steps can do a lot.

“As citizens, we could prevent future crime by taking better care of our property,” Hansen said.

In response to these problems, as well as under new administration, the MTPD has been trying to be more visible and get out into the public.

“Under new leadership we have taken a much more aggressive role in patrolling the city,” Hansen affirmed.

As the police force makes changes to try to prevent crimes, the community is a very large factor in its accomplishments.

“We have a relatively safe community,” Hansen said.

“When we have the help of citizens and people are being proactive, it helps a lot.”

Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity or strange vehicles in the neighborhood and calling 911 when a crime is occurring are simple yet effective ways to be proactive.