Police call volume exceeds last year’s pace, but not record-setting

Sean C. Morgan

Halfway through the year, Sweet Home Police Department is running just a little ahead of last year’s call volume.

As of June 30, Sweet Home police officers handled 4,789 calls, up 3.84 percent from 4,605 on the same date last year. The total number of calls received by dispatchers increased to 8,538, up .26 percent from 8,516.

SHPD reached its highest call volume in 2015. The call volume decreased from 10,161 in 2015 to 9,648 in 2016, a difference of about 10 calls per week.

Part I crimes, which include homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, decreased by 27.3 percent last year.

So far this year, the number of Part I crimes, which are designated such by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, reached 220 on June 30, up from 204 on June 30, 2016, an increase of 7.27 percent.

Police have improved their case clearance rate this year by 9.09 percent, clearing 77 Part I cases as of June 30, up from 70 on June 30, 2016.

“As of last week, we were about a week ahead of where we were last year at the same time,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. The increase this summer is not significant, he said.

“There were a couple of areas that were up,” Lynn said. Burglaries are down, “which is always nice to see.” Car thefts are down, but other thefts were up.

“Probably the first three or four months of 2017, there was what I would call a downward trend in calls for service,” Lynn said, adding that he wouldn’t describe that trend as significant either.

The call volume has increased during the summer, he said, with more activity in the past month.

Drugs remain a problem for Sweet Home, Lynn said.

“Heroin is continually on the uptick. As the months go by, it’s more of an issue. It’s just a devastating drug. A lot of younger individuals are getting into the heroin.”

Meanwhile meth remains widely used as well, he said.

Lynn doesn’t know why heroin is more widespread, he said. Some say it has to do with opioid prescriptions that turn into addictions. He has heard another theory that drugs alternate on a 20-year cycle.

The department is down one police officer since Mark Birkett went to Linn County Sheriff’s Office early this year. The department is in the final phase of hiring a new police officer. If the applicant is successful, the department will be fully staffed.

Lynn told the City Council last week that the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police recently completed an agency review.

He said the report included a tremendous amount of feedback from two very knowledgeable and respected sources, Chief Jeff Groth of Sherwood and Chief Jim Band of Oregon City.

The feedback is listed in various recommendations to consider as we move forward.

SHPD staff members are in the process of putting together information and action items associated with the re-commendations.

“I found the entire review process to be very informative and rewarding,” Lynn said. “It was a very positive experience.

“I would like to thank all of the staff and citizens who participated in it. Without the staff’s input this process would not be nearly as beneficial as it was.”