CENTER — Center Police Chief Gene (Dale) Meek released the most recent crime statistics for the town Tuesday, July 21, and highlighted some of the programs begun over the past year.
There were 1,756 calls for service to the Center Police Department from Jan. 1, 2020, through June 30. These include:
• 19 burglaries
• 56 thefts
• 18 criminal mischiefs
• 25 harassments
• Eight shopliftings
• Six sexual assaults
• 103 disturbance calls
• 25 noise disturbance calls
• 20 warrants served
• Three cases of drug trafficking
• 233 traffic stops with 27 citations and 23 traffic arrests/ summons
A total of 43 stops were made in July with the new LiDar Unit. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and operates similarly to radar but is assisted by the Doppler effect to better calculate the speed of suspected vehicles.
• Many other calls for service were civil, non-criminal cases such as a civil standby for parties separating to divide up belongings, lost property and medical assistance calls.
• The large volume of calls is time consuming
• Currently the department is staffed with seven officers including the Chief. However, one officer has been on restrictive duty due to injury and K9 training for most of the year. Two other officers have been in training the majority of that time.
• Most of these 1,756 calls for service were handled by four officers.
The current focus for crime reduction/ Public Safety Improvement is still on burglary suppression, interruption of narcotics supply and the current trend of racing and speeding in the town.
• The narcotics K9 has been trained, tested and we are awaiting paperwork showing the dog’s certification.
• A new LiDar unit, purchased with grant money, has been put into use. Most officers require training on the device before they can issue citations using official LiDar measurement.
• Sgt. Fresquez has completed K9 training and his duty status is close to being moved from restricted to full duty. Sgt. Fresquez’s work hours will change so there are more officers working during the times of criminal activity.
Once our two new officers complete training, a new schedule is being looked at which will supply near 24-hour coverage to the Town.
The following programs have been successfully implemented over the past year to build Community Engagement, although COVID-19 slowed and/ or stopped the community engagement that is forming bonds with residents. With the slow lift of restrictions and developing new ways to interact, this engagement must be increased.
To identify safety problems the following strategies have been adopted:
• Coffee with the Chief
• Neighborhood Watch with email chain
• Retail Theft Group
• Social media
• Consistent and transparent interactions with the press
Ways forward include increased School engagement, with Officer Deanna Lopez assigned to the schools. Her initial mission will be to attend school meetings and functions, open communications with school administrators, identify problems with public safety and assist in formulating and implementing strategies for improvement.
Community Leader Education in policing concepts also addresses:
• Use of force/ response to resistance requirements
• Current events and effects on policing
• K9 demonstrations and
• Public safety best practices