Last Thursday I had the privilege  of speaking to the Waxahachie Rotary Club. I always enjoy speaking to the civic groups because it gives people an opportunity to ask questions about THEIR sheriff’s office. One item that was talked about is the crime rate.

Like each of you, I have heard the saying that you can make the numbers to look like what you want them to say. However, when it comes to crime statistics that dog won’t hunt.  

Here’s why. Every month a law enforcement agency must report their major crimes to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) on a form called the Uniform Crime Report, or UCR.  

DPS then compiles the numbers from across the state and those are reported to the FBI. (UCR reports can be found on the FBI website.)   

Each month someone from each agency must sign off on the reporting form confirming its accuracy. Knowingly making/filing a false report is a criminal offense and can land the person in jail.

There may have been times when an agency may try to defeat the system by reporting a burglary as a criminal trespass or a car burglary as a criminal mischief. However, I do not believe that has been the case with law enforcement agencies in this county. At the sheriff’s office I have made it abundantly clear we will report the facts as they are proven to be.

One may ask, “what does all this mean and what purpose does it serve?”  

Well, basically it is an accepted nationwide way of reporting crime trends throughout the U.S. It can help a new business or manufacturer decide where they may want to move to.  It can help the federal government decide if a particular agency receives grant money. It can assist realtors in promoting certain towns or areas to live in. It can provide local residents with information about how effective their partnership is with their local law enforcement as it pertains to major crimes. (Major Crime is defined as homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and auto theft.)

The following is a breakdown of major crimes for January through October of 2008 and are compared to January through October 2013. I came into Office Jan. 1, 2009.

Major Offenses 2008    Major Offenses 2013

January - 105      January - 51

February - 79        February - 37

March - 110        March - 44

April - 114        April - 40

May - 113        May - 47

June - 108        June - 51

July - 97        July - 75

August - 114        August - 51

September - 143    September - 61

October - 95        October - 49

The above represents a 53 percent decrease in major reported offenses.

I tip my hat to the citizens and deputies who have provided outstanding contributions in making Ellis County a safer place.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.