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Police activity up, parallel with growth: Second-quarter report shows no ‘dramatic spike,’ authorities say

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Seven new Dickinson Police officers are sworn in Monday before the City Commission.

Dickinson Police activity is up over last year, but officials are saying the growth has been consistent with the city’s increasing population.

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The agency released its second-quarter numbers earlier this week before the Dickinson City Commission, which show that calls for service and 911 calls are up over the same time period in 2013.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, police received a total of 9,630 calls for service, not including traffic stops, up from 8,392 in 2013 and 9,231 in 2012.

“As our population has increased, so have our calls for service,” Capt. Dave Wilkie said. “It isn’t a dramatic spike.”

He pointed to this year’s 82 fight calls, up from 74 in 2013.

“If our population has increased from 23,000 to 26,000, we’re not taking 3,000 more fight calls,” he said. “Our crime is rising basically parallel to our population.”

Wilkie said he prefers to compare this year’s numbers to 2012, the year police in Dickinson began to feel the impact of the oil boom and what he calls one of the agency’s busiest years. New faces in town prompted a spike in suspicious person and suspicious vehicle calls from residents more accustomed to knowing their neighbors across the then-smaller community.

“We were really, really busy in 2012,” he said.

After stabilizing in 2013, calls for service are on the rise again, but Wilkie attributes the numbers to “more people using our services.”

Even as overall calls increase, the number of arrests have gone down from 2013 and 2012. Police have arrested 809 suspects so far this year, compared to 910 in the first half of 2013, and 810 in the first half of 2012.

“People don’t just call to report suspects,” Wilkie said. “They report that there’s a dog in their yard, a vehicle parked in front of the driveway; they report all kinds of stuff. And it adds another non-arrest number to our calls for services.”

Traffic stops are also down from 2012: 1,800 traffic citations were handed out this year, 935 less than this time two years ago. That doesn’t necessarily mean more conscientious drivers are driving in the city.

Wilkie said more traffic in general, especially during peak commuting hours, simply makes it difficult to make traffic stops.

“Calls for services are up, traffic flow is up,” he said. “Guys have less time to do traffic.”

The agency’s quarterly reports are compiled for use of the city, not to make the case to the state for more funding for agencies around southwest North Dakota. Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger said the agency is always working to be proactive in handling issues from the obvious — like traffic — to those not seen on an everyday basis, like drugs.

The department has grant applications out for additional funding for things like an additional school resource officer and more equipment for its tactical team vehicle, according to the report, and swore in seven new officers Monday before the City Commission. It’s the first time in Dassinger’s three years as chief that the department has been fully staffed.

“We make sure we have enough manpower in place to remain proactive in dealing with” the rise in crime, Dassinger said.

He agreed with Wilkie that the department’s growth in service has been parallel to the growth in the community. Second-quarter numbers have been fairly consistent with those of the first, he said, and he doesn’t expect the trend to reverse.

“I don’t foresee a major decrease in our numbers,” he said.

Faulx is a reporter with The Press. Contact her at (701) 456-1207 or tweet her at NadyaFaulx