Sex crimes on uptick in Fruita
Officers at the Fruita Police Department are dealing with a decided uptick in sexual assault cases, from 18 in 2012 to 39 cases last year. According to Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo, the cases do not indicate that an unknown sex assault suspect is on the loose. All of the incidents involve victims and suspects who know each other, according to Angelo. However, having an increase of cases for the department means that their nine patrol officers sometimes are asked to complete cases in a quick manner or hand them off to another agency to help out.
For example, in a recent case, the Fruita department tasked its personnel with interviewing victims and contacting school officials, but then handed off the case against former Fruita 8/9 teacher Randy Majors, who was accused of asking students for nude photos of themselves.
“As a result of relying on another agency, another case came to conclusion a lot faster than ours,” Angelo said.
Angelo said most of the cases include evidence that officers must pull off of technological devices. The department has a machine to extract information from cell phones and other devices, but its software must be updated as new models emerge.
“Do we need to have somebody on board to extract from those devices?” Angelo wondered. “Sex assault is a very serious offense. Those things need to see more attention. This is something that I will continue to monitor and watch.”
Angelo said he is watching whether the department can get through this year at current staffing levels before considering whether to ask city council to approve another position in the 2015 or 2016 budget cycle.
He agreed there is an upward trend of more people reporting sex crimes, even years after a crime has been committed.
Alongside the recent increase of more reported sex assaults in Fruita, the area steadily has been taking on more residents.
Fruita had about 6,700 residents in 2000, but nearly 12,700 people called it home in 2012.