Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Police calls plummet in 2018; violent crime up slightly; property crime down

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Police Department is reporting a dramatic decrease in the number of calls for service in 2018.

The CPD is also reporting a nominal increase in the number of crimes against persons and a nominal decrease in the number of crimes against property.

Those are the headlines from the CPD’s 2018 annual report.

Begin with calls for service, which last year totaled 8,860 or an average of roughly 24 a day. That figure represents a 9 percent drop from the 9,742 calls for service in 2017 and an eight-year low. By way of comparison, in 2012 the CPD responded to 15,455 calls or 42 a day, or nearly 75 percent more than in 2018.

According to Police Chief Dave Cincoski, hidden in that eight-year low is both a trend, on the one hand, and the last year’s staffing level, on the other. The trend: “Simply put, the calls for citizen-generated requests for police services are decreasing,” Cincoski stated in the report, not only locally but nationwide.

But the CPD’s staffing level in 2018 had a great deal to do as well with the decrease in service calls. For much of last year, one officer was on medical leave due to work-related injuries while another was on major medical leave. Two other officers were attending the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for three months, another officer joined the department in September, and yet another joined in October. With fewer officers on duty, there are fewer opportunities for what Cincoski calls “unobligated activities,” that is, “those activities officers are required to engage in to fill vacant or quiet times between calls.” Unobligated activities include, among other things, traffic stops, business checks, and ordinance enforcement.

“If the department had been at full staff and had those officers been capable of duty-related activities, the calls for service could have increased to approximately 14,231 calls,” Cincoski concluded.

Crimes Against Persons and Property

Meanwhile, crimes against persons were slightly up in 2018 and crimes against property slightly down.

A total of 11 crimes against persons were investigated last year, compared to eight in 2017:

* Aggravated assault: seven (five in 2017).

* Murder: none (one, that of Nicole Gland).

* Rape: two (two).

* Robbery: two (none).

A total of 111 crimes against property were also investigated last year, compared to 117 in 2017:

* Burglary: 10 (18 in 2017).

* Theft: 94 (87).

* Motor vehicle theft: seven (12).

* Arson: none (none).

Investigations Division

In 2018 the CPD’s Investigation Division was assigned 258 adult criminal cases (236 in 2017) and closed 168 of them (131 of them in 2017), for a closure rate of 65 percent, compared to the previous year’s closure rate of 54 percent.

Investigations resulted in the filing of the following criminal charges: eight adult misdemeanors (four in 2017); and 15 adult felonies (14).

In addition, detectives were assigned 41 juvenile cases and closed 38 of them, with 15 misdemeanor delinquency charges (24 in 2017) and two felony delinquency charges (one).

The adult felony charges: burglary (one); thefts (nine); arsons (two); possession of a controlled substance (two); and robbery (one). The adult misdemeanor charges: fraud (one); battery (one); invasion of privacy (one); theft (one); public indecency (one); and possession of marijuana (three).

The delinquency felony charges: arson (two). The delinquency misdemeanor charges: battery (two); disorderly conduct (four); minor consumption of alcohol (two); possession of paraphernalia (two); and possession of marijuana (five).

School Resource Officers

The CPD is now fielding three dedicated school resources officers (SROs): Sgt. Randy Komisarcik, Chesterton Middle School; Sgt. Chris Swickard, Chesterton High School; and Lt. Joe Christian, Westchester Intermediate School.

“With the addition of more SROs, their duties have become more encompassing,” Cincoski stated in his report. “The program is not intended just for criminal intervention and investigation. It is also intended to establish a rapport and professional relationship with the various aged students. In addition to handling criminal investigations, the SROs and their position have blossomed into school building security specialists, public relations activities, infraction enforcement, teaching a variety of classes, and assisting building administrators with school disciplinary actions.”

The SROs’ activities in 2018:

* 920 student interventions and assists to school administration.

* 20 infraction tickets issued.

* 52 school building and classroom safety assignments.

* Participation in 14 safety planning meetings.

* Development of 14 safety plans and procedures.

* 107 public relations events: department and vehicle tours, field trips, parent/teacher conferences, and school drills.

* 49 classes taught on a variety of topics: bullying, substance abuse, and safety.

* Participation in 93 reading activities.

K-9 Unit

K-9 partner Maverick, handled by Officer Erik Palleson, joined the CPD in July 2018.

Since then, Maverick has had 37.5 hours of training, has been used in two tracks and 12 vehicle searches, and has alerted on four occasions to drugs resulting in four criminal charges.

“With the program only six months old, I can tentatively say that it has made significant strides and improvements,” Cincoski said. “The program will be monitored in the coming year to ascertain its value.”

Calls for Service

Calls for service in 2018 included the following:

* Traffic stops: 2,493 (3,066 in 2017, down 19 percent).

* Fatal crashes: none (one).

* Damage-only crashes: 381 (347, up 9 percent).

* Personal-injury crashes: 45, (35, up 20 percent).

* Reports of battery: 23 (39, down 41 percent).

* Reports of forgery: seven (seven).

* Reports of fraud: 71 (77, down 8 percent).

* Missing persons: eight (10, down 20 percent).

* Runaways: 18 (24, down 25 percent).

* Reports of sex offenses: nine (six, up 33 percent).

* Reports of shoplifting: seven (12, down 42 percent).

* Suspicious circumstances: 1,136 (1,112, up 2 percent).

* Vehicle repossessions: three (five, down 40 percent).

* Reports of child abuse: three (four, down 25 percent).

* Overdoses: 20 (27, down 25 percent).

Quality of Life

Quality of life, as measured by several different categories of call, was a mixed bag in 2018:

* Hit-and-run crashes: 75 (51 in 2017, up 32 percent).

* Animal complaints: 75 (78, down 4 percent).

* Disturbances: 367 (310, up 16 percent).

* Motor vehicle thefts: seven (12, down 42 percent).

* Peddler complaints: four (one, up 75 percent).

* Reports of public intoxication: four (10, down 60 percent).

* Train complaints: five (nine, down 44 percent).

* Incidents of vandalism: 57 (79, down 28 percent).

CPD Snapshot 2018

* 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 fields three officers; each night crew, four officers.

* Officers logged a total of 221,193 duty miles, with a daily average of 606. Total fuel usage for the year was 17,995 gallons, with average miles per gallon of 12.29 and average fuel cost per day of $151.35.

* Longevity: CPD sworn officers average 13.61 years of service: detectives, 17.83 years; patrol officers, 10.14 years; and reserve officers, 15.5 years.

 

 

Posted 2/12/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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