Felony charges were down in ’08Sure, Farmington is kind of a quiet little town on the edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is also one of the quietest towns when it comes to crime in Dakota County.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Sure, Farmington is kind of a quiet little town on the edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is also one of the quietest towns when it comes to crime in Dakota County.
Over the past three years, the number of adult felony prosecutions coming out of Farmington has been cut in half.
Dakota County attorney James Backstrom recently released the number of adult felony criminal prosecutions, something the attorney’s office does on an annual basis. Those numbers show a 39 percent decrease in the number of felony prosecutions coming out of Farmington, from 42 in 2007, to 26 in 2008.
Farmington has been on the decline for a number of years. In 2005, there were 57 prosecutions. That number dropped to 55 in 2006.
“We’re talking, this is the biggest drop in three years,” said Farmington police detective sergeant Lee Hollatz. “Compared to what is going on in other cities, we’re extremely low.”
The only Dakota County city with fewer prosecutions in 2008 was Mendota Heights, which had 22. Neighboring Rosemount had 69, and Lakeville had 123. The most prosecutions, 295, came out of Burnsville — which is still a decrease from 2007’s 315.
The statistics would almost suggest Farmington’s police officers have had very little to do over the last year, but that is really not the case, Hollatz said. The local PD sends hundreds of cases to the county attorney’s office on an annual basis. Some are charged as felonies, some are charged as gross misdemeanors and some are held for more investigation.
“Let’s say 50 cases were reported, and only seven or eight got charged,” Hollatz said. “Then the question becomes, what happened to the rest of them?”
Hollatz is more interested in the number of cases that are investigated and sent on for prosecution than the actual number of prosecutions. However, he does not have those statistics.
The county attorney's report does not talk about the number of misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors or juvenile prosecutions. Those numbers will come later.
Though Backstrom cites drug-related crimes as the no. 1 problem in Dakota County in 2008, those crimes actually ranked second in Farmington, tied with felony DWIs, with five prosecutions each.
The most commonly charged felony last year in Farmington were sex-related crimes. That does not shock Hollatz, either. What did surprise him was that in 2007, only two sex crimes were prosecuted.
“When Mark (Sundgren) and I saw last year’s numbers, we laughed out loud,” he recalled. “We thought those numbers were wrong.... We investigated a lot more than that.”
Sex crimes, he said, can fall under a variety of offenses, from looking at child porn on the computer to child molestation and even rape. And all have happened. Hollatz said eight felony sex crimes in 2008 “doesn’t surprise me,” he said.
There were four prosecutions for possession or use of dangerous weapons and four for abuse or neglect to minors; three each for forgery, burglary and assault crimes. A handful of other miscellaneous crimes round out the report.