Burglary, Violent Crime Down in 2013
Chief Parker of the Dalton Police Department included with his report to the commission a year-end recap of the agency’s accomplishments and activities in 2013. Crime is down in Dalton in nearly every category from high-water marks set in 2005. The rate of crimes classified as “Part I Crimes” (Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny, Motor Vehicle Theft and Arson) dropped to a low point in 2010 before rising in 2011. Ever since the rate of Part I crimes has remained steady. However, the DPD made strides in the fight against burglary in 2013. The rate of burglaries went down by 9.5 percent compared to 2012. Violent crimes also went down by nearly 30 percent in 2013.
Police Chief Jason Parker points to a number of factors that contributed to last year’s lower crime rate. The department has been focusing on taking a more strategic approach to reducing crime, with better crime analysis and data management and better communication within the agency and with other agencies to track where crimes occur and where police resources can best be utilized.
DPD Achieves CALEA Accreditation
An accomplishment in 2013 was earning accreditation from CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. The agency’s two-year effort to earn the honor culminated in the awarding of accreditation in August.
Accreditation from CALEA is an internationally recognized benchmark for professionalism in modern law enforcement agencies. Approximately six percent of law enforcement agencies in the United States are CALEA accredited. Dalton is among 44 Georgia agencies that are CALEA accredited.
The process started with a review of the agency’s policies and procedures during a self-assessment to check adherence to the more than 460 professional standards set forth by CALEA.
What this means for the people who live and work in Dalton is that the police department is working to ensure the agency holds fast to the best practices and standards of the world’s leading law enforcement organizations.
DFD Honors Retiring Engineer
Dalton Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield opened Tuesday’s meeting with a short ceremony honoring Engineer Earl Boyd who retired on March 16 after more than 25 years of service to the agency. Public Safety Commission Chairman Bill Weaver presented Engineer Boyd with a plaque honoring his service.
Engineer Boyd began his service on April 7, 1988. Chief Satterfield noted that while Engineer Boyd chose not to advance in rank he served as one of the department’s unofficial leaders as he mentored younger firefighters. Chief Satterfield also noted that whoever is promoted to fill Engineer Boyd’s engineer position will have some big boots to fill.
Neighborhood Policing Program Streamlined
Improving communication with neighborhoods has been a priority for the department for many years and it was the main motivation behind starting the department’s Neighborhood Policing Program in 2009. The department is revamping that program in 2014 with an emphasis on streamlining communication to make it easier for citizens to reach officers with concerns about events or trends on their block.
The idea of the program is still for the people who live and work in Dalton to have a voice in the department for concerns about their neighborhood that aren’t necessarily emergencies for which they’d dial 911.
Before, residents had to determine in which of 90 beats they lived or worked and then contact the officer assigned to that small beat. Now, residents determine which of the three large districts their neighborhood belongs and contact the supervisor for that area to assign an officer to work on an issue. Visit www.daltonpd.com and click the Neighborhood Police Program link on the right side of the page to find a document with contact information and a district map.
DPD Offers New College Internship Program
The Dalton Police Department is working to improve the way it recruits and selects new officers for the agency and in 2013 the agency started a new “enhanced internship” program designed to give college students exposure to law enforcement careers and also to give the DPD exposure to a new pool of qualified applicants.
The interns (who can be paid or unpaid) work with the records, patrol and criminal investigations divisions to perform a variety of duties, including data analysis and organizing case information. Interns also are responsible for conducting research projects with the agency. The students must be enrolled in an accredited college maintain a 3.0 GPA, be on track to graduate within 12 months of the start of the paid or unpaid internship, pass a background check, be available during normal business hours, and be recommended by his or her school.
While the students benefit from the opportunity to learn more about law enforcement and also have paid employment during school, the agency benefits from exposure to a larger pool of qualified applicants for work as law enforcement officers after graduation. The Dalton Police Department has already enjoyed a relationship with Dalton State College’s criminal justice program and this enhanced internship program is boosting that relationship.
Municipal Code Enforcement
In March of 2013, the department assigned an officer to full time code enforcement duty. Since then, the department has worked more than 300 code enforcement cases and created an online resource where citizens can report code enforcement issues to the agency.
The Code Enforcement Officer works to ensure properties and businesses are in compliance with municipal codes governing overgrown lawns, sanitation problems at apartment complexes, illegal signage, inoperative vehicles in yards, and dangerous or dilapidated buildings. Since March 2013, the department has worked to have six dangerous or dilapidated buildings demolished, most notably the burned out house at 1120 Ridgeleigh Cir. There are three others in the process of being torn down. More than 20 overgrown vacant properties have been cleared and are now being maintained.
The department is hoping to do even more work on code enforcement issues in 2014. The city has also applied for a HUD Community Development Block Grant to benefit low-moderate income neighborhoods in a targeted area. The grant will offset the salary costs of the department’s code enforcement officer while working in the targeted area on code enforcement issues. The officer would spend at least ten hours a week working in that targeted area.
Code enforcement is important not just to make the city visually appealing, but also to deter crime, said officials. Research shows that crime is more likely to proliferate in areas that are not well maintained.
To report a code enforcement issue in the area, log on to www.safedalton.com.