XENIA — Statistically, county-wide criminal activity in 2016 fluctuated in numbers. According to the county sheriff, Greene is still a safe place to live and work.
A report of statistics from the sheriff’s office showed four areas of crime were up from 2015: domestic violence, drugs and trafficking, theft and motor vehicle theft.
Domestic violence reports — 105 — increased 22 percent from 2015 to 2016, making it the highest it’s been in the last four years. In 2013, there were just three fewer reports and after that year reports significantly dropped.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said there’s no real explanation for the higher numbers of domestic violence reports, mostly because cases vary case by case and year by year.
What’s important, though, he continued, is that the county works every day to educate people and handle cases.
One of the initiatives, the Family Violence Prevention Center’s DIVERT Program, partners law enforcement with domestic violence crisis workers for home follow-up.
“The path we’ve taken in Greene County is to try to educate people on the importance of getting along,” he said. “There will unfortunately always be situations where family members don’t get along and it ends up in some kind of violence where the law enforcement is called and has to take action.”
The next increase on the list is a hot topic.
Statistics reflect a steady increase in drugs and trafficking over the last four years, starting at 101 reports in 2013, climbing to 254 reports in 2016. From just 2015 to 2016, there’s a 56 percent increase.
According to Fischer, the “tremendous increase” is not just impacting cities, but rural areas, too. Specifically, he spoke of the “Heroin Highway.”
“We get so many vehicles that travel from the south central part of the state in Dayton to get heroin and they can’t wait ‘til they get home to use it so they’ll stop in Greene County and use … which creates other problems, too,” he said. “Besides just having an overdose, now we have people under the influence of drugs driving.”
As overdoses are on the rise, Fischer said he has not yet decided to put Narcan in sheriff’s office vehicles yet, although the overdose reversal medicine is already carried by other area law enforcement.
“Besides responding to a call for an overdose … what else can we do? That’s the answer everybody’s searching for right now,” Fischer continued.
Drugs are having indirect effects on the county, too.
“Where do people get money to buy drugs?” the sheriff asked. He then named a few “side effects” of the drug epidemic, like committing thefts.
The year 2016 saw thefts rise from 215 to 293 incidents, a 36 percent increase from back-to-back years, although the stat is lower than it was in 2013.
Motor vehicle thefts only saw an increase by three reports to total 25 — still putting it at the highest it’s been in the last four years.
Despite these increases, five areas of crime went down from 2015 to 2016: rape and sex offenses, assault, burglary, robbery and criminal damage.
Rape and sex offenses saw 21 reports, down 22 percent from 2015. Assaults had 76 reports, down seven percent from 2015.
Sixty-six burglaries made the list, the number decreasing 27 percent from the previous year, while there were two robberies, which seems average. Reports of criminal damage or mischief hit 92, another number at its lowest in the last four years.
Fischer said one reason for the decrease in several crimes could possibly be because more road patrol and detectives are on duty. Those numbers are back to where they were prior to the recession in 2009, and Fischer hopes the county can keep it that way.
“If you go by the old adage that if the guys are out there — whether it’s my guys or local law enforcement somewhere else — people see it is a deterrent. So yes, I have to believe that a lot of these numbers are affected by the fact that we do have more people out there,” he said.
Three crimes stayed the same from 2015 to 2016. The county saw no homicides, 36 breaking and entering reports and four arson reports.
Among the sheriff’s priorities for the rest of 2017 include the continued work on the drug problem, helping individuals struggling with addiction, and slowing down drivers on the roads.
Numbers fluctuate and the work continues, but Fischer remains proud of the county.
“I think that Greene County is a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place to work. Local law enforcement, the sheriff’s office, State Highway Patrol — we all work very well together to maintain to the best of our ability the degree of safety and protection,” he said.
“Can we be everywhere? No, the stats show that. But we do pretty good and I will put up the reputation of the Greene County criminal justice system against anybody.”
Reach Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.