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Crime rate drops in 2010

POSTED March 22, 2011 9:34 p.m.

For a third consecutive year the crime rate in Turlock has dropped, though for 2010 it was done with the smallest of margin.

The Turlock Police Department recorded a decrease in crimes by a fraction of a percentage point, according to the department’s annual report. But the reduction was enough to push the department up to a 20 percent reduction in major crimes for the last three years.

The annual report was scheduled to be presented to the City Council Tuesday, but was pulled from the agenda because of time constraints.

In the report, Police Chief Gary Hampton states the department initiated a strategy of more proactive policing, which is designed to prevent criminal acts from occurring. As a result, the department recorded 4,800 less calls for service with a total of 62,196 for the year. The strategy also helped lessen the number of incident reports by 1,000, the report stated.

The department made 4,311 arrests in 2010.

The number of Part 1 crimes, which includes both violent and property crimes, was at 3,332 for 2010, which is 28 less than the previous year. In 2010, there was one homicide, 20 forcible rapes, 125 robberies, 299 assaults, 686 burglaries, 1,731 larceny/thefts, and 470 motor vehicles.

The department saw a decrease in both adult and juvenile arrests. Adult arrests were down 5 percent and juvenile detentions decreased by 14 percent.

The year saw a slight increase in robberies and assaults and a larger number of larceny/thefts, but saw sizeable decreases in burglaries and motor vehicle thefts. There were less homicides and forcible rapes in 2010 compared to 2009.

Two major bright spots in the report were decreases in the number of auto thefts and the number of gang-related crime.

An 11 percent drop in auto thefts in Turlock was attributed to the department’s partnership with the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force, which provided 150 steering wheel locks to owners of the most frequently stolen vehicles, at no charge. Additionally, the department’s Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement Team expanded their focus to include auto thefts.

Gang-related crimes dropped from 60 in 2009 to 35 in 2010, according to the report.

In total, the C.A.G.E. Team made 102 felony arrests and 131 misdemeanor arrests and conducted 198 parole and probation searches.

Of the department’s 4,311 arrests, the use of force was deployed less than 1 percent of the time. The most common type of weapon used was a Taser, which was used nine times in 2010, compared to 23 in 2009. Of the more than 62,000 calls for service, nine generated citizen complaints with the primary reason being a violation of policy and procedure, according to the report’s findings.

The Investigations Unit is manned by 13 detectives and this year they were assigned 311 cases. Of those, 45 were cleared or closed and 114 resulted in arrests of affidavits being issued for a total clearance rate of 46 percent.

The Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team made some significant in-roads in disrupting the sale of narcotics. The team was responsible for the seizure of 102.67 grams of methamphetamine; 934 grams of marijuana; 83.67 grams of heroin; 339 marijuana plants; 87 pills; $23,791 in cash; and 16 guns. They made 58 arrests and served 22 search warrants.

The Traffic Safety Unit continued to expand their efforts to keep those on Turlock’s streets safe. For a third year, the unit oversaw the county-wide anti-drunk driving campaign Avoid the 12, which conducted 11 DUI checkpoints throughout the year.

The unit also partnered with city engineers and the Turlock Unified School District to produce the School traffic Safety Plan. Using a variety of strategies that included informational flyers and enforcement efforts, like ticketing, the unit dramatically reduced the number of collisions involving pedestrians, especially children, around school zones.

The number of collisions dropped to 711 in 2010, down from 823 in 2009 for a 14 percent change. There was one fatal collision in Turlock in 2010. The number of injuries reported was 223 for a 9 percent decrease from the year before.

No one is exactly enthused to be handed a traffic ticket, but a survey of 250 people who received citations during a three-month period overwhelmingly “expressed satisfaction with the professionalism of the Traffic Safety Officers,” according to the report.

The unit also used 2010 to spread the word about the importance of seat belts. There was a 79 percent increase in the number of seat belt violations in 2010, with 597 tickets handed out compared to 334 in 2009.

The department’s budget for 2010/11 is $15.8 million, up from $15.6 in 2009/10. Because of ongoing spending cuts, the department has found itself more reliant on volunteerism to keep some programs going that otherwise would have been eliminated. The backbone of the department’s volunteer efforts is the Volunteers in Police Service program and this year the VIPS logged more than 7,300 hours of service.

In 2010, the police department reinstated the Police Reserve Program. The program provides professional, sworn volunteer reserve police officers who “can augment regular police staffing levels,” the report stated. The reserve officers are usually assigned to the Field Operations Division and aid with enforcement efforts. The department started with three and plans to expand to 10 this year. Two of the three reserve officers were later hired as full-time police officers.

A total of 17 new Neighborhood Watch groups were formed over the year and Business Watch was expanded to include local hotels and the creation of a robbery/fraud alert notification for local banks.

The department’s partnership with Crime Stoppers generated 39 tips for the 39 cases profiled and paid out six rewards related to Turlock crimes.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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