By CHRIS COLLINS
Of the Baker City Herald
As the officers of Baker Citys police department gain more training and experience, the communitys residents are benefiting by a drop in crime statistics, according to Police Chief Jim Tomlinson.
Tomlinson attributes the statistical decline to the initiative of his officers in making arrests and clearing crimes. He added that the trend follows a smaller decline in criminal activity statewide and nationally.
Tomlinson added that the various agencies involved with law enforcement also are helping reduce crime in the community.
We are all working together better, he said.
That includes the officers of the parole and probation department, and the district attorneys office as well as judges, he added.
The department also continues to identify training needs and provide classes that will enhance the efficiency of its officers.
Its a team effort on everybodys part, he added.
The Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team, which includes one Baker City Police officer and detectives from the Oregon State Police and Baker County Sheriffs Office, also has been effective in reducing crime by developing cases against drug users and suppliers, Tomlinson said.
In 2001, the task force recorded 203 cases, and made 85 arrests. That was up from 167 cases that yielded 68 arrests in 2000 and just 86 cases with 34 arrests in seven months of operation in 1999.
District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff agrees that the reduced crime is in part related to the success of a fully staffed drug task force.
Fewer people are searching for money for drugs, he said.
That has led to a decrease in the number of thefts and burglaries.
Index crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, dropped by 21.7 percent from a year earlier, according to Tomlinson.
Sixty-five burglaries were reported in 2001 compared with 80 in 2000, 110 in 1999 and 172 in 1998. Theft went from a high of 608 in 1998, to 466 in 1999, 364 in 2000 and 287 in 2001.
Department statistics also show that domestic violence continued to be a serious problem in Baker City, Tomlinson noted. Officers responded to 95 domestic violence calls and made 71 arrests in 2001. That was up from 51 calls and 39 arrests in 2000 and 89 calls and 78 arrests in 1999.
We continued to actively partner with the domestic violence council (MayDay), Services to Children and Families, the juvenile department and mental health, he wrote in his report to the City Council.
Tomlinson noted that last years drier, milder climate also resulted in a higher than usual volume of motor vehicle traffic. That coincided with an increase in the accident rate and increased enforcement. The department issued more than twice the number of parking citations in response to public complaints about overtime parking, he said.
More animals were impounded and more citations were issued also in response to the publics request for code enforcement, he added.
The department was fully staffed in 2001, which enabled officers to spend more time in education and enforcement. The department includes 10 officers, two sergeants, two detectives, one half-time code enforcement officer, one half-time clerical person, one lieutenant and the chief.
In 2001, officers were able to devote more time to traffic enforcement around the schools and on Main Street and around bars at night, Tomlinson said. The department also added a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer to teach the program in Baker elementary schools.
Here are other statistics included in Tomlinsons annual report:
Total reported 1,324
Total cleared 959
Cleared means an arrest was made or the crime was otherwise solved.
Total arrests made 941
Total traffic citations 966
Total parking citations 207
Animal citations 175
Animals impounded 239
Calls for service
Total documented activities 9,572