Population growth and proactive officers are chiefly responsible for Yelm Police Department’s 35 percent increase in calls for service in 2013, according to the police chief.
The police department received 16,649 calls for service in Yelm in 2013, according to numbers the department released to the Nisqually Valley News on Tuesday. That’s 4,375 more calls than in 2012.
The largest increases were for warrant arrests, up 78 percent; traffic problems, up 77 percent; traffic stops, up 56 percent; and burglaries and contact order violations, both up 50 percent.
The biggest decrease was in shoplifting calls, down 72 percent. Suicides decreased by 47 percent, automobile thefts decreased by 21 percent and vandalism decreased by 17 percent.
Police Chief Todd Stancil said a combination of factors have contributed to growing demand for police service in the city.
Growth is the largest contributor of what he called a “pretty significant increase” in calls for service.
Many of the calls aren’t necessarily indicative of crimes being committed, but rather reflect proactivity on the part of officers, Stancil said.
Calls related to driving under the influence, traffic problems and stops, warrant arrests, suspicious activity and field interviews include many instances of officers being proactive, he said.
“The self-initiated activity of officers is intended to decrease the property crimes, crimes against persons, when you’re talking about thefts, burglaries, assaults, auto thefts,” he said.
He pointed to a 21 percent decrease in automobile thefts and 4 percent decrease in assaults as evidence that the strategy works. Even so, it’s not perfect, he said, as evidenced by the 50 percent increase in burglaries.
“We didn’t succeed there,” Stancil said.
“So some of these areas we’re able to try to help, but at the same time, when you’re talking about a population growth that has seen what we’ve seen ... our calls for service have nearly doubled since where we were in 2010. So officers are doing a lot more because of the demands of the population that we have here.”
The number of officers in the police department has remained unchanged since 2010, Stancil said.
Stancil emphasized that a 35 percent increase in calls doesn’t mean a 35 percent increase in crime.
“We’re doing more in the area of calls for service, but we’re doing more to try to prevent crime from escalating as well,” he said. “And in some cases we did and in some cases we didn’t. In 2010 you’re servicing a population of roughly 5,000 and now we’re servicing a population of approximately 7,500 and our staffing hasn’t changed. It’s a matter of asking more of our officers, which we’ve done, to keep up with the demands of the community.
“Our goal here ... for the last several years is in the area of self-initiated activity: Go out there and be vigilant, be seen, be very visible in the community and make contacts with people,” Stancil said. “If something isn’t right, investigate it, look into it, in hopes of deterring the actual personal and property crimes.”
In addition to annual statistics, the police department analyzes monthly numbers, Stancil said.
“We try to look where we are each month and we try to look at different trends as far as what’s going up, what’s going down,” he said. “For example, if we notice our burglaries and our vehicle prowls and things like that are going up then we really kind of stress field contacts, going with more suspicious vehicles, just being a lot more proactive in that area. So we try to tailor … our service based on whatever the needs are at the time.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here