Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mount Rainier police look to put wrap on crime for holidays

Raisa Carmago, The Gazette

Crime rates continue to plummet in Mount Rainier — continuing a decade-long trend — and police officials attribute public outreach and retaining police staff as key factors in the drop, an effort they anticipate continuing with the addition of four new officers.

Police Chief Michael Scott said the city experienced a decrease in crimes and calls for service from January to November compared to the same time period in 2012.

“I think it’s a combination of things,” Scott said at the Dec. 3 City Council meeting. “Our increased patrols ... analysis of where crime is occurring and strategically placing of our officers in those areas in those times and those places.”

Part I crimes, which involves anything from theft, robbery or assault to homicide, decreased from 298 to 278 since last year, according to the police department statistics. While there were no homicides reported this year, burglaries - 57 - and thefts from motor vehicles - 38 - continue to be on the rise, according to the statistics.

As the holiday season approaches, Scott said the department will be using crime analysis to focus on where crimes are occurring.

In 2003, the crime rate was 648, according to the statistics.

“The crime rate has decreased over 500 percent in 10 years,” said City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau (Ward 1). “We’re proud of our public safety personnel. Not just for reducing crime, but also for reaching out to the community and building a good relationship, which I’m equally as proud of the police for doing.”

Scott said there is also more public outreach, asking residents to be aware of things like keeping porch lights on during the darker hours, being alert for stolen mail and staying at their car when pumping gas, as gas stations can be notorious for purse snatching.

“I think it’s also an increased awareness of our residents in town,” Scott said. “We’re getting more and more interaction with them when they see suspicious people, when they have questions or concerns and we’re very responsive to that.”

Scott said it’s also important to have a stable work force and attributed it as a factor of lowering crime rates.

Four new police officers were also sworn in during the meeting, to bring the total to 17 officers. Scott said the additions would lower the chances of officers having to work overtime, particularly in this time of year.

“The longer that you can keep an officer here, the longer that they have that institutional knowledge, they condition themselves to be in those areas where crime is occurring,” he said.

Mayor Malinda Miles said she was ecstatic to learn of the police department’s success in reducing crime.

“To see a drop like this continue for the last few years shows that our police department is doing exactly what they’re paid to do,” Miles said. “Keep us safe and keep crime out.”

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