As Frisco’s population continues to increase, Frisco Police are looking to keep stride when it comes to fighting crime.
A December report of Frisco Police Department crime statistics shows that the department cleared 1,108 more criminal investigation cases than it did in 2019. Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said that number is in line with the city’s population growth.
“Our goal is to keep our crime stats and our crime numbers at or lower than our per capita increase in population,” he said.
He noted that the total amount of “Part 1” offenses, which include murder, rape, assaults, robberies and burglaries, had gone down compared to the previous year.
Some specific offenses saw an increase from the previous year, including the number of rape offenses reported by the department. Since 2016, the number of reported rape offenses has increased every year from 23 as of December 2016 to 63 as of December 2020.
Shilson said some of that increase is accounted for by Frisco’s increased population – the city has seen over 45,000 more people come in since 2016.
“The other thing that I would say is we've got a lot more services and resources available for victims of these types of crimes,” Shilson said. “They are probably more willing to come forward because of those additional services and resources, and so I think that explains some of the increase as well.”
Shilson said the number of sexual assaults or rapes in Frisco is very low compared to other cities of the similar population size.
“But obviously, our goal would be to have zero in a year or decrease our overall number, that's our ultimate goal,” Shilson said. “But I still think if you compared us to cities our size, we're very fortunate to have a number as low as we have.”
While it is difficult to forecast the future, Shilson said, crime increases can be expected when a population grows. The department looks at those increases in relation to how much growth the city has and tries to keep crime numbers at or lower than the population growth.
“That's one of those things that we strive for, we'll continue to strive for,” he said. “I always tell people, crime is very relative. You have to look at the numbers in relation to cities around us and then cities that are equal in size to us, and I think what you'll see, and I think what's been recognized by many, is that our crime numbers overall are very low compared to most other cities our size.”
Shilson presented the department’s December 2020 report to the Frisco City Council on Tuesday – the last report for a year predominantly overtaken by a pandemic.
The department’s pandemic response has included taking more phone calls to reduce in-person contact, socially distancing when taking reports in person and doing additional screenings of arrestees to avoid a COVID-19 spread within the jail, Shilson said. The department is also looking at implementing an online reporting system.
“But it's been very, very challenging,” he said. “Having to reinvent things on the fly as most police departments have had to do this past year doesn't mean that we've been immune to COVID.”
Through the year, he said, over 75 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, and some had been hospitalized. Shilson added that other people had to quarantine due to close contact.
“So it certainly has been a challenge, but we have navigated it,” he said.
Another statistic Frisco police have kept an eye on: mental health calls in the community. Shilson said the department has been tracking the number of mental health calls compared to a five-year average and that the number consistently surpassed the five-year average during the 2020 months, a cause of concern for the department.
“COVID has definitely taken a toll on our community and certainly something that has us a little bit concerned,” he said, “but we're providing all the resources that we can to those individuals and trying to get them to the help that they need.”