Chesterton Tribune



Criminal activity in Chesterton falls in 2017 despite shortstaffing of CPD

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Crimes against persons dropped dramatically in the Town of Chesterton in 2017, although one of those was the first murder investigated by the Chesterton Police Department since 1999.

Crimes against property also plummeted last year.

Those are the first two headlines from the CPD’s 2017 annual report.

The third: the CPD continued to operate seriously understaffed in 2017.

Begin with crimes against persons as tallied by the CPD’s Uniform Crime Reports (URCs) and filed with the FBI:

* Aggravated assaults: five (nine in 2016).

* Rapes: two (five in 2016).

* Murder: one, that of Upper Deck bartender Nicole Gland in April; Christopher Dillard has been charged with Gland’s murder and is awaiting trail. Gland’s homicide is the first investigated by the CPD since a murder/suicide in 1999. In 2014 a Chesterton man was charged with aggravated assault-causing death after investigators determined that he shook a 2-year-old boy in his care and then, after the child lapsed into unconsciousness, claimed that the boy had fallen off a trampoline; the man later pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

* Robbery: none (two in 2016).

Crimes against property:

* Arson: none (none in 2016).

* Burglaries: 18 (19 in 2016).

* Thefts: 87 (147 in 2016), a decrease of 41 percent.

* Motor vehicle thefts: 12 (10 in 2016).

Investigations Division

In 2017 the CPD Investigation Division was assigned 239 adult criminal cases (236 in 2016) and 56 juvenile cases (39), and closed 131 of them or 54 percent, compared to 70 percent of case closures in 2016. Police Chief Dave Cincoski attributed the drop in the closure rate chiefly to staffing issues, including the re-assignment of one detective to the Patrol Division and another’s taking medical leave. On the other hand, Cincoski noted, although the Investigations Division closed fewer cases last year, several of them “were more serious and required more detailed investigations than those of the previous year.”

The Investigations Division filed a total of 18 adult criminal charges in 2017 (26 in 2016). Of those, 14 were felonies: one murder, four burglary, four theft, two robbery, two identity deception, and one child molestation. The other four were misdemeanors: two theft and one each criminal mischief and operating while intoxicated.

The Investigations Division also filed a total of 24 juvenile delinquency charges last year (34 in 2016). Of those, one was a felony: possession of a legend drug. The other 23 were misdemeanors: five battery, five possession of marijuana, four theft, four criminal mischief, three disorderly conduct, two indecent exposure, and one minor consumption of alcohol.

Calls for Service

Last year total calls for service fell by 14 percent, to 9,742 from 11,308 in 2016. “Simply put,” Cincoski stated in his report, the calls for citizen-generated requests for police services are decreasing. On the other hand, the CPD’s understaffing means that fewer officers are available “for unobligated activities,” or those which “officers are required to engage in to fill vacant or quiet time between calls.” The drop in unobligated activities is also reflected in the 14 percent decrease in calls for service.

A summary of the staffing issue in 2017: For much of the year, one officer was on medical leave due to work-related injuries; another officer was on administrative leave for the whole of the year; two more officers resigned their positions, with those slots remaining vacant for approximately five months; and finally yet another position remained vacant for the full 12 months and still has not been filled.

By Cincoski’s calculation, had the CPD been able to field a full 22-member force for the entirety of 2017, performing traffic stops and other unobligated activities, the CPD would have responded to 13,770 calls for service, 41 percent more than it did last year.

Still, even with fewer officers on regular patrol in 2017, the CPD still logged 3,066 traffic stops, only 1 percent fewer than the 3,103 in 2016.

On the other hand, school visits--an unobligated activity--did fall by 11 percent last year, to 770 (864 in 2016).

Calls for service included the following in 2017:

* Fatal crash: one (one in 2016).

* Propety-damage crashes: 347 (373), down 7 percent.

* Personal-injury crashes: 36, (35), up 3 percent.

* Fraud complaints: 77 (66), up 14 percent.

* Missing persons: 10 (8), up 20 percent.

* Runaways: 24 (15), up 38 percent.

* Overdoses: 27 (14), up 48 percent.

* Vehicle repossessions: five (2), up 60 percent.

* Suspicious circumstances: 1,112 (1,098), down 2 percent.

Quality-of-Life 2017

Quality of life in Chesterton, as measured by several different categories of call, was a mixed bag last year:

* Hit-and-run crashes: 51 (74 in 2016), down 30 percent.

* Animal complaints: 78 (92), down 15 percent.

* Disturbances: 310 (300), up 3 percent.

* Peddler complaints: 12 (7), up 42 percent.

* Reports of public intoxication: 10 (8), up 20 percent.

* Train complaints: 9 (0).

* Reports of vandalism: 79 (55), up 30 percent.

* Bicycle thefts: 12 (19), down 37 percent.

CPD Snapshot 2017

* Longevity: CPD sworn officers averaged 13.6 years of experience: detectives, 21.8 years; patrol officers, 11.1 years; reserve officers, 14.5 years.

* Patrol officers are divided into four crews: two day crews (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and two night ones (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Each patrol officer works 12 hours per shift. When fully staffed, each day crew filed three officers; each night crew, four officers.

* Officers logged a total of 269,537 patrol and response miles, with a daily average of 738 miles. Total fuel usage for the year was 21,910 gallons, with an average daily usage of 60 gallons.

* Most duty usage over the course of the year: 25,400 miles by Officer Erik Palleson, equivalent to circumnavigating the globe and then driving 500 more miles for good measure.


Posted 3/8/2018




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