Have any of you seen the Facebook post that the Walmart here in Aurora is closing? It makes its way around about every six months. Have you ever told anybody that it’s true because it’s on the internet? I didn’t think so.
Last week, our county prosecutor, Don Trotter, stated that crime in Aurora had gone up 42 percent and that he used the website OnlyInYourState.com as his reference. Now, I wasn’t at the meeting so I will not go any further than that on what was said, but it does bring up a very important lesson for all of us to learn from. Facebook is not where you should be getting your news; it is a social media site, not a news media site.
If I want to stay informed on what the Kardashians are doing, then Facebook is the place to go. If I want to know about the crime rates in my town, I am not going to a website that states, “This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as info-tainment. Don’t freak out.”
On the front page this week we have a picture of a fire truck on its roof -- do you know how it got that way? According to some posts on Facebook, the driver was trying to dodge a chicken. Not what happened? If enough people start to believe this stuff, we end up with nobody really knowing what happened.
I have stated in the past that I will never tell you what to believe, but I will give you the information so that you can make up your own mind. I sat down with our police chief and asked him about the crime rates over the last few years, and he gave me some unofficial numbers that date back as far as 2013. Here I will give you just a basic comparison of some of those numbers.Total calls to 911 in 2017 -- 4,405 (that is down more than 200 from 2016) Cases in 2017 -- 1,361 (the lowest number on record going back to 2013 and more than 200 fewer than 2016 and down almost 500 from 2015)
Now, not every category on the report that have gave me has gone down, but just like the rest of the world, people are reporting things that they might not have five, 10 or 15 years ago. For example, domestic violence cases are at a higher number than we have seen in the past few years, but that may be attributed to the fact that people are not as willing to hide things or to sweep them under the rug as has happened in the past.
One area that surprised me was that the number of cases turned over to the prosecutor's office are down about 80 from 2016 but are up around 100 from 2015. I would say that that would lighten the load on the county prosecutor. The one area that has seen a steady decline in the last three years is the number of drug cases.
Now, I can take these numbers and I can make them say whatever I want them to say. If I only say "The number robberies has gone up 60 percent since 2016," you might say "Wow, that is a huge number," but in reality, we only had five total in 2017 and three in 2016. So how do those numbers look in comparison to the first set? Yes, Aurora had a 60 percent increase in robberies in 2017 verses 2016 but we only had five.
Now let's look at another set of numbers. Stealing cases had a 50 percent reduction from 2016 to 2017; we went from 234 in 2016 to 101 in 2017. But that is not the whole story either, as the high in 2013 was 366. So in the last four years we have seen a 72 percent reduction in stealing cases in Aurora.
In closing, I feel safer walking down the streets of Aurora than I would walking in Springfield, Kansas City or St. Louis. I have lived both in Springfield and St. Louis, so I speak from experience. So before you believe everything on the internet and Facebook, do a little research of your own, or ask someone who might know the truth.