19-06-26 Blaine County Jail 1 Roland WEB.jpg

Though crime rates dropped for several weeks this year due to COVID-19 self-isolation orders, last year’s numbers continued to rise in Blaine County lifted by a drastic rise in DUI arrests out of Sun Valley and Bellevue, according to a report from the Idaho State Police released this month.

In total, 464 criminal offenses were reported in Blaine County in 2019, an increase of 11 from 2018 and a rise of 44 compared to 2017, according to ISP’s annual Uniform Crime Report.

The Sun Valley Police Department reported 20 DUI arrests in 2019, compared to seven in 2018 and two in 2017, the report said.

Sun Valley Police Chief Mike Crawford told the Mountain Express that the rise could be attributed to a full force of police officers and an increase in training specific to conducting standard field sobriety screenings, creating a more accurate outcome. However, Crawford acknowledged that more people could be partaking in substances, alcohol or otherwise, in the city and then choosing to drive intoxicated.

In addition, Sun Valley saw a rise in simple assaults, defined as “an unlawful physical attack by one person upon another,” with no weapon or bodily injuries. Crawford said the rise in those cases, from zero in 2018 to seven in 2019, could also be attributed to drunken altercations.

In Bellevue, the Marshal’s Office also saw a rise in DUI arrests, from seven in 2017 to eight in 2018 and 15 in 2019, due in part to increased patrols and a full force of deputy marshals.

The Hailey Police Department saw an overall 12 percent increase in offenses compared to 2018. Those offenses included aggravated and simple assaults, burglary and larceny, destruction of property and drug/narcotics violations, the last of which contributed to 25 arrests made in 2019, compared to 27 in 2018.

In addition, the Hailey department saw a rise in liquor law violations, which include consumption by a minor and selling alcohol to a minor. In 2019, Hailey police made 10 adult arrests for liquor law violations and 13 juvenile arrests, compared to 2018 which saw four adults arrested and 19 juveniles arrested.

Those numbers will likely rise in 2020 after Hailey recently received a grant from the Idaho Office of Drug Policy that provides $20,000 to the Police Department for a yearlong drug-prevention initiative. Hailey Police Chief Steve England said the grant will encourage officers to use compliance checks, alcohol-purchasing operations, party patrols and traffic stops to deter youths from using alcohol and drugs, though the focus will be on curbing underage drinking, the Express reported in June.

The State Police conduct an annual Idaho Uniform Crime Report, collecting crime statistics from across the state. Data was compiled for all of Blaine County based on statistics reported by each local police agency, which includes the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, the Ketchum Police Department (a division of the Sheriff’s Office), the Bellevue Marshal’s Office, the Hailey Police Department and the Sun Valley Police Department.

The annual report tracked “offenses,” defined as any incident that resulted in a police report being submitted after a call for service and a determination by the officer that a crime had been committed. Unfounded reports were not counted.

For the full report from State Police, visit nibrs.isp.idaho.gov.