Motorists who drove too fast or ran red lights in Modesto were less likely to get a ticket last year compared with 2013. But the drop in citations was accompanied by an increase in traffic incidents.
The number of citations dropped 16.2 percent, from 15,753 in 2013 to 13,199 in 2014, while the number of traffic incidents increased 9.4 percent, from 3,077 in 2013 to 3,365 in 2014.
Police Chief Galen Carroll presented this information Monday to the City Council’s Safety and Communities Committee as part of a report on traffic statistics for 2013 and 2014. Carroll said this is the first time in a while that the Police Department has provided the committee with this data, and it plans to start providing it on a quarterly basis.
Carroll also presented a report on crime statistics, which showed a 6 percent drop in serious offenses, which are known as part one crimes, from 2013 to 2014. These offenses include homicide, rape and robbery. Property crimes, such as burglary, dropped by 8.8 percent.
An exception to the crime drop was aggravated assault, which increased 11 percent, from 1,168 incidents in 2013 to 1,301 in 2014. Carroll said aggravated assaults typically are domestic violence and other incidents in which the assailant and victim know each other. The number of rapes also increased, from 72 in 2013 to 81 last year.
Carroll said some of the reasons for the decline in traffic citations include having fewer traffic officers and those officers having to investigate more traffic fatalities. There were 14 such fatalities in 2014, compared with 11 in 2013. He said the investigations are time-consuming.
He said another factor was the Police Department’s decision to turn its red-light cameras off in May over concerns of the department not having the staff for the program, as well as its cost. Modesto has the cameras at four major intersections and has contracted with Redflex Traffic Systems for the cameras for about a decade.
Police officials have said the program is on hiatus, possibly until May, while the city and Redflex officials discuss a new agreement in which Modesto would pay less for the cameras.
Here are some of the highlights from the traffic and crime reports:
▪ DUI arrests fell from 1,162 in 2013 to 629 in 2014, while DUI crashes increased from 177 in 2013 to 189 in 2014. The number of traffic incidents resulting in injuries rose slightly, from 823 in 2013 to 842 in 2014.
▪ There were 11 homicides last year, compared with 14 in 2013. Modesto had 20 homicides in 2012, which was the most since 2009, when there were 21.
▪ Auto thefts dropped 14 percent, from 1,389 stolen vehicles in 2013 to 1,195 in 2014. The 2014 number was the lowest in at least five years.
▪ Commercial burglaries dropped 10.3 percent from 2013 to 2014, and residential burglaries declined by 32.2 percent.
The traffic and crime reports are available by clicking on the meeting agenda at www.modestogov.com/council/committees/safety.asp.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.