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VICTOR JOECKS: Henderson hides crime surge from residents

Updated October 17, 2022 - 11:57 am

There’s a big difference between the claims Henderson officials make about public safety and what their statistics show.

The Review-Journal recently obtained an email from Henderson’s Crime Analysis Unit. It revealed that the number of robberies soared by 91 percent during the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. The incidents went from 78 to 149.

Robbery in this context doesn’t include most thefts. Stealing becomes a robbery, legally speaking, if it’s done by “means of force or violence or fear of injury.” Shoplifting is usually larceny. In 2021, Henderson had almost 4,000 larcenies from theft.

“The analysis is a result from the significant increase in reported robberies in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021,” Albert Mesa, a crime and intelligence supervisor, wrote. “Our increase was so significant the FBI contacted the Records Sections to verify that our reporting was accurate — unfortunately, it was accurate.

“Key findings were increases in all area commands, increases in escalated shoplifts and strong-arm robberies.”

If robberies are up that much, it’s likely larcenies are soaring, too. Some businesses may not even bother to report them after Gov. Steve Sisolak and legislative Democrats gutted criminal penalties in 2019.

Those are not the only crime statistics that should concern city residents. In 2019, there were 543 reported violent crimes in Henderson. In 2020, that spiked to 682 and then hit 772 in 2021. That was the highest number in at least 10 years. Aggravated assaults nearly doubled, going from 268 in 2019 to 517 in 2021. That’s from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, which includes information supplied by the city of Henderson.

But city officials are painting a different picture for residents.

“Henderson continues to be one of the safest largest cities in America,” Chief Thedrick Andres said at a community forum last month. “I want to give us a round of applause, because that takes a lot of work.”

An October 2022 fact sheet from the city includes a section on crime trends. It brags that robbery is “trending down 20 percent.”

How can the city make this claim given the findings of its own police department? By cherry-picking data. In the fine print, it states that reduction results from comparing January to August 2022 versus the 10-year average from 2011-2020.

On that flyer, the city also claims that burglary is “trending down 50 percent,” using the same method to skew the data. Burglary is defined as entering somewhere with the intent to steal, excluding stores during business hours.

“We have had burglary and breaking-in offenses that have increased 32 percent,” Andres said at that same meeting. He added that catalytic converter thefts are up 75 percent.

I asked Henderson police about this disconnect. In an email, Andres claimed the emailed analysis “was based on internal operational data which has not fully undergone the approval and quality assurance process.” That’s an odd thing for the police department to send to the FBI.

That response makes one worried that analysts are or will be pressured to reduce the severity of reported crimes after the fact. Andres said, “Analysts do not have the ability or permission to change the type of crimes reported by officers.”

Andres defends using historical data as a baseline, because of the pandemic in 2021. He said the reduction of store hours in 2021 reduced the likelihood of escalated shoplifts. That seems like a better argument to make about 2020 when Sisolak forced many businesses to close. Regardless, it leaves a very inaccurate impression for city residents.

The misdirection here makes one wonder what else the top brass is trying to keep hidden. There’s already evidence woke-ism is running amok in Henderson.

To start, Henderson residents deserve to know the truth about crime in their city.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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