More meth, fewer assaults
The most dramatic numbers revealed in the Ward County Sheriff’s Department’s 2013 Annual Report indicate that the street value of crystallized methamphetamine seized countywide grew by more than 600 percent from 2012 to 2013.
The street value for the drug, which is referred to as “ICE” in the report to differentiate it from the powdered variety, by year’s end was $404,600, which is roughly 6.4 times higher than the $63,200 worth seized in 2012.
In comparison, only $120,311 worth of marijuana was seized which was down from the $143,479 seized in 2012 and well below the $590,608 worth seized in 2010.
The statistics also show a marginal increase in “B.C. Bud,” which is an ultra-potent strain of marijuana that originated in home-based hydroponics grow operations in British Columbia, Canada.
Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski also pointed out that the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has led to more people bringing large quantities of the drug to the region after legally purchasing it in those states. There’s a reason why that development isn’t setting higher bars on the seizures charts, though.
“We’re concentrating on the more serious offenses. There’s a lot of marijuana here but it just shows how much meth there is,” Kukowski said.
Cocaine was present in the county at extremely nominal values and Kukowski said in an interview that while heroin has been present in the county it is not even close to being a major player.
One of the few positive changes in 2013 over 2012 was the number of assaults committed by adults.
The prior year saw the highest number of simple assault arrests in recent statistical memory at 111, which rocketed to more than double the 47 seen in 2011. That year there were 19 arrests for the more serious charge of aggravated assault, a number that stayed the same in 2013.
For juveniles, the rate of simple assault grew by 11 to 44 in total and the number of aggravated assault charges went unchanged at three.
The drop in simple assaults doesn’t quite paint a full picture of county violence.
Domestic violence calls continue their steady upward trend, with 247 total calls in 2013 which is more than double that of the 141 seen in the 2010 data set. The recent growth is represented by the 189 in 2011 and 234 in 2012.
Kukowski said that he can only account for the accuracy of the statistics since he replaced Vern Erck as sheriff on Jan. 1, 2011.
That year saw a nearly unbelievable increase in traffic related problems. There were nearly three times the number of total traffic accident calls at 1,051 compared to 353 in 2010. Likewise, property damage accident reports increased by a factor of roughly 3.3 times that of the previous year, at 821 to 252. Injury accidents increased to 160 from 64, hit and runs to 62 from 34 and fatalities to eight from three.
Those numbers set a trend that has continued throughout 2012 and 2013 which posted comparable numbers. There were 1,056 total accident calls, 819 total property damage reports, 140 injury accidents, 83 hit and run accidents and 14 fatal accidents.
The reason for such astronomical traffic numbers through the last three years could largely be the result of tremendous growth in the region. The roads are stressed and there seems to be no slow to the growth.
“One of my main concerns is inmate population,” Kukowski said. “How do we handle the flow of people?”
There were 292 more prisoners processed through the county jail in 2013 than there were the year prior. 2012 saw an increase of 337 prisoners over 2011.
The jail also tracks “man days,” which is the number of prisoners multiplied by the number of days spent in jail. 2012 saw an increase of 3,953 days over the year prior at a total of 36,274. 2013 saw an increase of 1,123 days to a total of 37,397.