Police: Calls decline in 2008 | CraigDailyPress.com

Police: Calls decline in 2008

Less activity attributed to lower staffing level

Joshua Roberts

Craig Police Department calls for service:

• 2001 - 10,615

• 2002 - 12,103

• 2003 - 13,244

• 2004 - 14,958

• 2005 - 14,946

• 2006 - 17,769

• 2007 - 17,983

• 2008 - 15,793

* As reported in the Craig Police Department's 2008 Annual Report

Craig Police Department calls for service:

• 2001 – 10,615

• 2002 – 12,103

• 2003 – 13,244

• 2004 – 14,958

• 2005 – 14,946

• 2006 – 17,769

• 2007 – 17,983

• 2008 – 15,793

* As reported in the Craig Police Department’s 2008 Annual Report

The year 2008 was a “busy, yet successful year” for the Craig Police Department, Police Chief Walt Vanatta wrote in his annual report.

“We recognize the important role we play in Craig’s quality of life and are always encouraged by the tremendous support we receive from the community we serve,” Vanatta wrote.

“I am particularly proud of the character shown by all our staff in taking on extra tasks to accomplish several of our strategic objectives. : The character and teamwork demonstrated by not only our employees, but those of other agencies we work with is exceptional.”

The Police Department, which patrols the city’s 4.9 square-mile jurisdiction, and about 53 total miles of city streets, responded to more than 15,000 calls for service and 1,800 criminal calls, the chief wrote in his report, which recently was submitted to the Craig City Council.

Although the numbers, in comparison to past years, reflect a decrease in activity, most areas “that saw reductions were in officer-initiated activities, which is directly related to staffing levels,” Vanatta wrote.

The Police Department spent most of the year understaffed by five patrol positions.

Currently, the Police Department employs 23 people, or one under its budgeted staffing level.

According to the report, police responded to 15,793 calls for service last year, about a 12-percent decrease from the 17,983 calls the department responded to in 2007.

The year 2008 marked the first year in the past seven that the department has seen a “significant decrease” in calls for service, Vanatta wrote.

Again, that decrease could be attributed to less officer-initiated activity – such as traffic stops and security monitoring, among others – rather than calls from the public, he reported.

The top 10 service calls, according to the report, are:

• Animal complaints

• Follow-up investigations

• Other agency assists

• Security checks

• Community policing contacts

• Citizen complaints

• General complaints

• Noise complaints

• Disturbance calls

• Thefts

Other top calls, Vanatta reported, include harassment, warrant arrests, suspicious persons, and vehicle and traffic complaints.

The Police Department’s highest call volume days have shifted from Fridays and Mondays to between 10 p.m. and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday traditionally has been, and remains, the slowest day of the week, according to the report.

An area that continues to be a “community-wide issue” is drug-related incidents, police said.

The Police Department estimates that “approximately 85 percent of all our crimes have a drug-causational relationship.”

In 2008, drug/narcotic violations decreased by 24 percent from 2008 to 2007, or 63 offenses last year against 83 the year before, the report stated. Police again attributed part of the decrease to having less staff last year.

Despite last year’s lower number of incidents, the report stated that the Police Department had 174 percent more drug-related incidents last year than earlier in the decade, in 2001.

According to an index of crime statistics in the annual report, sex offenses jumped from 14 cases in 2007 to 19 in 2008, a 36 percent increase; aggravated assaults jumped from 23 in ’07 to 29 in ’08, a 26 percent increase; burglaries increased from 46 in ’07 to 51 in ’08, an 11-percent bump; and vandalism/criminal mischief cases increased from 168 in ’07 to 189 in ’08, a 13 percent increase.

The report indicated that police administrators and officers completed several strategic goals in 2008, including: outfitting patrol officers with updated radios, meeting regularly with prosecutors from the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for pre-trial discussions and general case reviews, providing information to media outlets on a regular basis and providing timely court notices.

Other strategic accomplishments were hosting theft prevention classes to local businesses/banks; offering identity theft education and training to the community; and making sex offense investigations a priority.

On traffic enforcement, the Police Department paid overtime for traffic enforcement, and installed two new speed devices (one on north Yampa Avenue and the other on East Victory Way).

Despite having a successful year, Vanatta wrote that “many challenges remain” for the Police Department.

“While political leadership may have changed, our nation remains engaged in a long-term war against terrorism, an economic downturn is impacting every part of our society and we remain engaged in a local war against methamphetamine use and it’s impacts on our community,” the Police Chief reported.

“We are all facing critical challenges which are changing our community and our nation. The members of the Craig Police Department are excited to be actively engaged in working with people at all levels to enhance our quality of life and protect the public from all criminal threats.”

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