MPD had fewer calls
in 2012, but arrests up
Friday, January 04, 2013 10:00 AM
Madison police calls were down in 2012 compared with previous years. Most notably, there were declines in drug-related activity and vandalism calls.
Police responded to 9,609 calls in 2012, down from 10,669 calls the year before. Calls have steadily been declining since 2008, the first year the annual call logs were kept. The number of calls by year are:
2008 - 12,432
2009 - 12,358
2010 - 11,869
2011 - 10,669
2012 - 9,609
While calls were down, arrests were up 26 percent and citations were up 38 percent. Part of the reason for an increase in the number of arrests made is because officers are serving more warrants. Officers served 47 percent more warrants in 2012 than in 2011.
Madison Police Chief Dan Thurston said officers have been working closely with the sheriff's department to know what warrants are out and getting those warrants served.
"We've got a couple guys at the department who are constantly trying to get them served," he said.
There was more publicity in 2012 about vandalism in high-traffic areas, but the number of vandalism calls was actually down from the previous year. In 2011, there were 331 vandalism calls compared with 253 in 2012.
More officers are patrolling to keep an eye out for possible vandals. After receiving several reports from Main Street business owners about vandalism, officers starting patrolling downtown in plain clothes to catch people who could be breaking the law.
Thurston said that tactic resulted in several arrests and is something his department will continue to do in the future.
Some increases suggest hard economic times. Shoplifting calls increased from 90 in 2011 to 110 in 2012. Police received 37 calls about people driving off without paying for gas, which is up from 22 the previous year.
Drug-related crimes are down slightly, from 152 calls to 133, and reports of breaking and entering are down. Police received 739 total breaking and entering calls this past year and 808 the previous year.
But Thurston doesn't believe a decrease in breaking and entering calls is related to a decrease in drugs because he does not believe there has been a decrease in drugs in the community.
"I still think that 99 percent of what we do revolves around the drug industry," Thurston said, adding that he thinks most people break into places to steal items to sell for drugs.
One possibility for a decrease in breaking and entering calls is the increase in patrol cars in the community. The department is working to get take-home cars for all officers and currently has cars available for members of the Emergency Response Team.
Thurston said it's too early to tell if extra cars in the community are the reason for the decrease, but after another year he could have statistics to support that theory.
What Thurston hopes to improve in the future isn't something that can be tracked by statistics.
"What we're really trying to focus on here ... is officer efficiency or officer case load," he said.
The department is trying out a new way to respond to calls that includes cycling through the on-duty officers rather than having one person assigned to a particular area. The change is an attempt to alleviate stress.
Another effort officers are trying to make is being more proactive about stopping crime rather than reactive. He hopes to get officers out in the community in an attempt to stop crime before it happens.