Summit County had record-high arrests last year, according to CBI data |

Summit County had record-high arrests last year, according to CBI data

Jack Queen
Arrests in Summit County reached a new high in 2016, according to recently-released data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Arrests in Summit County climbed to a new high in 2016, rising to 1,304 from 1,257 the previous year, according to annual report by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation released earlier this month.

A rise in ski pass frauds with the Breckenridge Police Department contributed to the jump, with 266 fraud arrests in 2016 compared with 80 the year before.

In those cases, suspects are simply issued a court summons and are not booked into the jail, but they are still classified as arrests.

Law enforcement officials estimate that only about 20 percent of arrests recorded in official statistics actually lead to people being detained and booked into the county jail.

Across the state, rates increased for every class of crime except burglary, which went down by a population-adjusted 1.3 percent.

The biggest jump was in auto thefts, which increased by an adjusted 19.5 percent from 2015, according to the report.

Much of the change in the statewide figures stems from rising crime rates in urban areas on the Front Range. Nearly one in three of last year’s 189 homicides, for instance, were committed in the Denver area, contributing to the 6.3 percent increase in the statewide murder rate per 100,000 residents.

While Summit County’s arrest numbers did reach a new high, they saw only a modest increase form the year before and were mostly insulated from the urban crime trends that have pushed the state totals up. The county didn’t see the jump in auto thefts, with only 27 stolen vehicle reports last year compared with 30 in 2015.

“We absolutely experience every type of crime that the big cities experience, just at much lower rates,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said.

Just last month, for instance, a person was seriously injured in a stabbing incident in the Bald Mountain area.

The victim was taken to the hospital and recovered after an emergency surgery, but the case is still under investigation and no suspect has been named.

Overall, police in Summit County made 16 arrests for aggravated assault last year, down slightly from the 18 total in 2015.

DUIs remained one of the largest arrest categories with a total of 204 in 2016, which was also down from the previous year’s total of 283, although the figure doesn’t include DUI arrests made by the Colorado State Patrol.

Those numbers are fueled in part by grants awarded each year by the Colorado Department of Transportation to help law enforcement agencies cover the cost of extra DUI enforcement patrols.

Last year, the Breckenridge Police Department was awarded nearly $20,000 for extra patrols, which helped it nab 12 allegedly drunk and drugged drivers during the holiday season.

At an estimated 33 percent, Summit County has one of the highest binge-drinking rates in the state, according to survey data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

That contributes to the DUI numbers, FitzSimons said, but offenders are by no means limited to locals.

“We absolutely have some frequent fliers we deal with on a regular basis, but we also have people from all over,” he said. “You also have that ski resort mentality with a lot of young people from all over the country and world and that party atmosphere they create.”

Still, given Summit County’s robust and free public transportation, FitzSimons finds it puzzling that the number of DUIs is so persistently high.

“Honestly it makes no sense to me because of the availability of free transportation,” he said. “We should have very low DUI arrest numbers, but we don’t.”

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