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The battle of crime statistics

Sheriff’s race heats up in ads as finances are reported

Two candidates for Del Norte County sheriff, incumbent Dean Wilson and his predecessor, Jim Maready, are citing rival crime statistics in Triplicate advertisements.

Meanwhile, all four candidates for sheriff, including Crescent City Police Sgt. Erik Apperson and Yurok Tribal Police Sgt. Elwood “Butch” Lee, have submitted their first round of campaign finance numbers. 

Wilson, who replaced Maready in 2003, released the first ad comparing average crimes per year during most of his tenure (2003-2012) and Maready’s (1995-2002). Using data compiled by the California Department of Justice, Wilson focused on violent crimes, aggravated assaults, property crimes, burglaries, residential burglaries and theft. Numbers in the ad indicated the rates of those crimes decreased under Wilson.

Maready responded to Wilson’s ad with one of his own, also using California Department of Justice statistics. Maready focused on the number of reports taken for homicides, forcible rapes, attempted rapes and robberies during the two tenures. Maready’s ad showed an increase in reports in three of those four categories during Wilson’s time.

So who’s right? Basically, both are.

Even though the ads use numbers from the same source, their methodologies are different. Wilson’s ad presents annual averages in broad categories, while Maready’s ad presents total numbers in narrower categories.

“I feel it’s important to break down the different types of calls, that way you can show what the total is,” Maready said this week. “I did not want to get in this statistic war, because I think you can use stats and anybody that works with numbers knows you can make them say what you want.”

While both ads are mostly accurate, there are some discrepancies — and not always in favor of the candidates who paid for them. For example, Maready’s ad said there were 174 forcible rapes reported from 2003 to 2012, but the actual number is 186, according to the California Department of Justice.

Maready’s ad also states that there were 26 robberies reported during his term that involved weapons. However, according to the Department of Justice, there were 28.

Wilson’s ad also contains a minor discrepancy in that he cites numbers of assaults when using the numbers for aggravated assault.

Maready said he suspects any decrease in crime during his successor’s term is due to a decrease in the number of reports taken. He said he planned to take out another ad in today’s Triplicate that will address those suspicions.

“When I was sheriff, reports were taken ... you’ll see there’ll be a complete difference in the amount of reports taken,” Maready said. “I think it’s leadership and not the deputies’ fault.”

Wilson countered by saying the way crimes are charged has changed over the past 11 years.

“Last year we took more than 1,900 crime reports,” Wilson said. “We filed 980 crime reports with the DA’s Office. We do what we’ve always done, which is try to determine what crimes are committed.”

Wilson noted that there has been an increase in non-residential burglaries over the past three years. He blamed that on the effects of AB 109 realignment, which shifted low-level offenders to county jails and probation departments.

“Most of the low-level offenders are current offenders,” he said. “We know that in the drug culture, you have individuals basically (use) a lot of types of thefts and larceny in order to support their habit.”

Crime statistics for the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office can be found at oag.ca.gov/crime/cjsc/stats/crimes-
clearances
.

Meanwhile, recent campaign finance reports show Maready was the leader in contributions and spending as of March 17. At that point, Maready had received $3,507 in contributions and spent about $2,580.

Maready had an ending cash balance of $927.83 as of March 17. His biggest contributions included $1,000 from former sheriff’s Detective Jerry Harwood and his wife Jan, $500 from Victor and Judy Vinson of Crescent City, and $500 from Ned Burgess, owner of Salmon Harbor Resort in Smith River.

Apperson had received the second-highest amount in contributions at $2,085 and had spent $616, showing an ending cash balance of $1,468.34.

Apperson’s largest contributions included $400 from Steven Kenner of Oakland and $300 from Joel Borges, a California Department of Corrections employee from Roseville.

In a newer development, on April 2 Apperson’s campaign reported receiving a $2,000 contribution from Elk Valley Rancheria.

As of March 17, Wilson had received $1,649 in contributions and $2,995.49 in personal loans that he made to his campaign. He spent $1,247.43 and had an ending cash balance of $3,397.06. Wilson’s largest contributors include $500 from his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Hector and Eileen Brown, and $500 from his wife, Mary Wilson.

Lee’s campaign received $682 in unitemized contributions of less than $100 and had spent $187 as of March 17.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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