During 2017 the City of Aspen lived up to its reputation of being a safe place to live, work and recreate.
The year was filled with anticipation as construction of the new police station was well under way.
We are grateful for all of the support the community has shown through this process. We are excited for this space to be an asset for our community. Construction is anticipated to conclude in May, 2018.
Complete statistics at: https://goo.gl/Uy5zKK
What went well?
During 2017 property crimes and crimes committed against people within the City of Aspen were both down 7% from 2016. That being said, with a population as small as ours it is hard to draw significant conclusions about what may, or may not, have led to certain outcomes in a given year.
Over the past seven years, crimes against people have fluctuated between 230-326 cases per year and property crimes between 530-691. The numbers fluctuate from year to year within those ranges and have shown no trends in one direction or the other.
What this tells us is that there has not been a huge influx of criminal activity over the past 7 years and Aspen remains a generally safe place to live. Our department continually explores strategies and collaborations within the community that can make Aspen safer, but for the most part it is business as usual.
What could have gone better?
Bears!! Not the bears themselves, but how humans interact with bears could improve immensely.
Every few years we have a late frost during the spring, low precipitation during the summer, or other events that make natural food sources like nuts and berries scarce for bears. Such was the case during 2017, when we received more than twice as many bear calls than we did the year before (615 versus 219 respectively).
When bears can't find the food they need in the high country, they begin to venture into town looking for tasty morsels. That might be yesterday's trash, leftovers in your car, or crab apples. What was more alarming than the number of bears in town, was the way people acted around them. Officers with the Aspen Police spent countless hours managing crowds that were trying to get a closer look at bears or even chasing them to try to get photos. Some humans seem to have forgotten that bears are wild animals. There is nothing separating an agitated mother from an onlooker who is encroaching on her cubs.
Not only is this a dangerous situation for onlookers, places bears in a stressful and harmful situation. Bears that might otherwise make their way down from trees to continue feeding, instead stay in trees for numerous hours because they are trying to avoid the humans who are hanging out below their trees. Bears need to consume up to 20,000 calories per day during the fall to put on enough weight to survive through winter hibernation. When bears are treed by humans, they aren't getting the food or water they truly need.
We hope that there are better natural food sources in 2018, but in the meantime we have are exploring new partnerships and ways to educate community members and visitors alike about proper bear etiquette.
What was a surprise?
During 2017 traffic stops went up 125%. This is a reflection of the new staff joining the department, as new officers build experience and expertise by spending time doing traffic. Our department has hired and trained four new officers in the past two years.
Despite the large increase in traffic stops, only 4% of them resulted in written citations or DUI arrests.
Another statistic that is effected by car stops is warrant arrests, which were also up during 2017. When an officer pulls a citizen over, that person's information is run through a database that identifies individuals who may have a warrant out for their arrest. Typically we would not have had contact with these individuals during our day to day activities, but due to the increase in traffic stops the odds of contacting someone with a warrant also increases.