Fewer felony cases in Franklin County doesn't lead to safer streets

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. -- For the first time in years, fewer people are facing felony charges.

Talk about a shock for our courts. Despite beefed up patrols, more arrests, and more calls for police, fewer criminals are facing felony charges in Franklin County.

It sounds promising for sure, but does it mean our streets are safer? Not quite.

"It's too soon to say that things are a whole lot better," says Shawn Sant, Franklin County Prosecutor.

This year there's been a 20% drop in felony cases in Franklin County. It comes despite the success of Pasco's Street Crimes Unit, which has successfully put dozens of people behind bars since January. It's those types of cases that could be the key to this whole thing.

Cases involving gangs and drugs take a lot of time and effort. After all, you can't go to court and get a conviction by using the bare minimum. So by taking longer to investigate serious cases, it means there's been a slow down of felony cases coming to local courts.

"We might not get those referrals yet," Sant tells KEPR. "They might be stacked up in the police office waiting for follow up... or police might not have any leads."

Another factor is the types of crimes being investigated. More often than not, police are looking into property-based crimes, which can be notoriously hard to solve.

"When you have an assault case, usually there's somebody that knows something... but with property cases there's no witnesses," Sant says.

This year, there's been a 10% rise in police calls in Franklin County.

That stats couldn't be more clear cut. It's not that there's been less crime in Pasco, it's how to manage the cases that's been the issue.