PITTSBURG — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation recently announced the publication of its annual report on domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault for 2018.
“The offenses counted in this report represent only those reported by victims to law enforcement,” the agency noted in a Nov. 5 press release.
The statewide domestic violence incident and arrest trend increased in 2018, according to the report, reaching 8.2 incidents per 1,000 people, a level last seen in 2012. The domestic violence homicide trend, at just over 25 percent of all homicides in the state being domestic violence-related, also reached a level not seen since 2012.
The total number of domestic violence homicides in Kansas last year, however — 37 — was one less than the total in 2017, a particularly violent year that saw 176 homicides, the highest number of any year on record since 1993.
Stalking offenses increased significantly in 2018, according to the report, by nearly 27 percent over the previous year, although the total number of these offenses was slightly less than in 2015.
Over the longer term, however, based on the numbers in the report it appears stalking offenses have increased dramatically from the early 2000s. The total of nearly 900 stalking offenses statewide in 2018, for example, was more than three times the annual total a decade earlier, and more than five times as much as the 173 offenses in 2002. While the rate of increase over time has been less drastic, meanwhile, in 2018 more rape offenses were reported in the state — a total of 1,349 — than in any year going back to at least 1992.
Safehouse Crisis Center Executive Director Rebecca Brubaker said, however, that in the case of stalking offenses, it is likely that the sharp increase shown in the KBI report is because of an increase in victims reporting offenses rather than an increase in stalking incidents.
“I think that individuals are just realizing that those resources are out there,” Brubaker said.
Safehouse Crisis Center is an organization with offices in Pittsburg and Coffeyville that aims to reduce the incidence of the kinds of crimes that are the subject of the KBI report.
Similarly, Brubaker said that the increase in rape offenses probably represents an increase in reported cases rather than an actual increase in the crime being committed.
“These are just the ones that are reported to law enforcement,” Brubaker said. “Many women and men do not report.” It is an ongoing problem that victims of rape don’t report the crime, Brubaker said, but just because it goes unreported that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It is important to focus on bringing offenders to justice rather than blaming victims, she added.
The recently released KBI report also includes information specific to Crawford County and area cities.
Crawford County law enforcement agencies reported 246 domestic violence incidents in 2018, according to the report — an increase from 222 in 2017 but less than the 287 reported in 2016.
Protection from abuse filings increased slightly last year in Crawford County from the previous year — 178 compared to 175 — but there were less such filings in 2018 than in 2016, when there were 195. The 127 protection from stalking order court filings recorded in the county in 2018 was less than the numbers for 2016 and 2017.
Out of any Crawford County law enforcement agency, the Pittsburg Police Department reported the most domestic violence and rape incidents, and accounted for a majority of incidents of both categories of crime throughout the county not only in 2018 but in 2016 and 2017 too.
The higher number of such incidents is not surprising considering Pittsburg’s higher population, however, and the number of rape incidents in 2018 was less than half what it was in both 2016 and 2017, while the percentage of reported domestic violence incidents that resulted in arrests was higher.
Last year also saw less than half of the 33 violations of protective orders reported in Crawford County in 2016. There was a slight increase, however, from 11 to 14 violations, between 2017 and 2018.
Overall, Brubaker said, much more needs to be done to decrease the kinds of crimes discussed in the KBI report.
“I think as far as sexual violence goes,” she said, “until we can really have some of these conversations and change them to focusing on the offender as opposed to the victim, it will still be a major problem.”