Criminal Charges Trending Upward in Stearns County
ST. CLOUD -- Criminal filings in Stearns County District Court continue an upward trend. Figures released by the County Attorney's Office show small increases from 2015 to 2016.
There were 76 more adult felony charges filed year-over-year and 89 more gross misdemeanors. In 2017, we are on pace for 17 more adult felony filings.
County Attorney Janelle Kendall says there isn't one type of crime that really stands out among the others...
If anything, the property crimes are going back up to the levels we saw in 2007 and 2008.
But, Kendall says the upward trend may be a bit misleading...
But there again, part of that is I don't know if crime is occurring more often. Maybe we're catching more people, the investigations are that much better, and we're more able to charge people and hold them accountable.
Murder filings were flat with three total, each in 2015 and 2016. There were 446 person crimes last year, up 23 from the year before. Property crimes, drug offenses, and weapons crimes were all up slightly as well.
Child protection cases have taken center stage since the death of a Starbuck boy in 2013. Four-year-old Eric Dean died at the hands of an abusive stepmother.
In Stearns County, a record number of child protection cases were filed in 2015 with 253 CHIP's cases. Last year there were 214 filings. Kendall says as a result there have been more cases where they sought to terminate parental rights...
I can says that more of these are physical abuse. For awhile, we were seeing meth, we were seeing drug-related issues in child protection. And, now these are far more likely to be cases of physical abuse and actual harm to the children. But, when you see the child protection numbers go that high it's not surprising that we saw the termination of parental rights cases go up.
Kendall says Stearns County is on pace for 223 child protection cases in 2017, which is higher than every year but the record year of 2015.