Prosecution down for juveniles, up for adults
The city of Farmington got mixed results in the adult and juvenile crime statistics released this month by the Dakota County Attorney's office.
The number of adults charged with felony-level offenses increased by 58 percent -- from 26 prosecutions in 2008 to 41 last year -- but the number of juveniles prosecuted fell from 124 to 93.
Countywide, the number of adults charged with felonies fell by 12 percent last year. There were 1,514 adults charged in 200, down from 1,729 in 2008. Farmington was one of just three cities in Dakota County to see an increase in prosecutions of adults last year. The others were Hastings and West St. Paul.
But police chief Brian Lindquist said last year's increase is not a sign of increased crime in Farmington. It's more like a return to normal. Farmington had 42 felony prosecutions of adults in 2007.
Lindquist said the number of calls police receive has stayed consistent from year to year.
"It may be up one year, down the next," Lindquist said.
Drug offenses were the most commonly charged felony last year in Farmington with 22. There were six charges for theft-related offenses, four for sex-related crimes and two for burglary.
Drug offenses among adults were down countywide, but remained the most common felony offense. In 2009, 375 individuals were charged with felony drug crimes in Dakota County, compared to 414 in 2008.
"While illegal drug use in Dakota County and across our state continues to be an enormous problem, this is the fourth year in a row in which we have seen significant drops in the number of individuals charged with illegal drug crimes in our community, which is obviously a good sign," county attorney James Backstrom said.
Drug offenses have been the county's most frequently charged offense since 1997.
Methamphetamine continues to be the number one illegal drug involved in criminal charges in Dakota County, although the number dropped significantly last year. A total of 124 individuals were charged with meth-related felonies in 2009, compared to 162 the previous year.
No meth labs were seized in 2009 - 28 were seized in the county in 2004 -- but the meth is still coming here, now from Mexico, Backstrom said.
Lindquist attributed the drop in charges against Juveniles to simple biological progression as much as anything. From time to time police see a group of teens who tend to cause more than their share of trouble, but eventually those kids either either grow out of the juvenile category and get charged as adults, move out of town or grow out of their troublemaking ways. Get rid of a few of those kids -- some of whom are responsible for large numbers of offenses -- and the overall numbers drop.
Burglary was the most commonly charged felony among juveniles with 11 offenses charged. Lindquist said with a large number of homes in Farmington vacant following a foreclosure there has been a problem with teens breaking into homes to "get out of sight."
"I think on the onset of all of those homes becoming vacant the banks were really overwhelmed and didn't have a handle on maintaining those properties," Lindquist said.
Banks have gotten better In recent months about securing and maintaining vacant homes, Lindquist said.