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S.L. COUNTY NOTES RECENT INCREASE IN AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS

Charles R. Bush was stabbed numerous times in the chest and died the evening of June 21.

Court documents say he and his wife were in a fight. She slashed him with glass and he hit her with a pan, the documents say. Then the woman feigned an apology just as she prepared to stab him, a witness said in the papers.But the crime did not receive much public attention. The media didn't play the story significantly because it was only the latest of a quick series of five killings in Salt Lake City during June.

It's as if such a crime is becoming mundane.

Violence apparently has been on an upswing in recent months. Part of the reason is the time of year. Warm months tend to bring more crime. But there is a disturbing trend. Crimes against people are up significantly in Salt Lake County. Specifically, aggravated assaults in the first five months of the year are up nearly 30 percent in one year.

While the rate of killings was down during that period, the five straight slayings in June are not a good sign.

From January to May 1989, 177 aggravated assaults were reported in Salt Lake City. In the same period during 1990, there were 250 - a 29 percent increase.

County statistics show a similar trend: a 28 percent increase, from 282 during January through May 1989 to 361 in the same period of 1990.

Using the same time period as a judge, however, the homicide rate is down about 50 percent over last year. (That's before adding the five city killings this month.)

There were seven county killings and 12 city killings in the first five months of 1989, as opposed to three and seven in 1990.

Both Salt Lake Police Lt. Marty Vuyk and Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department systems supervisor Doug Walker said they don't know why the assaults increased.

Vuyk said, however, that the trend simply reflects the direction society is heading. "Our whole society's view is to respond quickly to situations in a violent manner," he said.

Vuyk noted that by last year's end, 1989's slaying rate slowed, leaving Salt Lake City with between 15 and 20 such fatalities for the year - in line with previous years.

He said it is not unusual for a relatively large number of killings to occur in a relatively short period of time, as has happened this June.

Both Vuyk and Walker said people generally commit more violent crimes during summer months. Walker blames the heat, more activity and children out of school as factors that contribute to summer crime increases.

In other statistics during that time period, the Salt Lake County sheriff saw a 29.3 percent increase in crimes against people (part of the increase is due to a change in classification of child rape cases); a 2.7 percent increase in crimes against property, such as burglary; and a 10.1 percent increase in the number of calls for service.

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(Additional information)

Aggravating statistics

So far in 1990, the Salt Lake County sheriff's office reports the following changes in crimes over the same period in 1989.

HOMICIDE/MANSLAUGHTER -57.1%

RAPE/ASSAULT +166.7%*

ASSAULT +28%

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY +10.5%

BUSINESS BURGLARY +20.7%

LARCENY +1.6%

AUTO THEFT -11%

ARSON -3.2%

KIDNAP +25%**

*Due largely to a change of classification in rapes against children cases.

**Represents an increase of only one case.