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Arrests down in Dickinson, traffic stops on the rise

Traffic and truck stops conducted by the Dickinson Police Department are on the rise compared to last year while arrests have dropped. The number of traffic stops conducted by the department as of the end of September increased by more than 10 pe...

Traffic and truck stops conducted by the Dickinson Police Department are on the rise compared to last year while arrests have dropped.

The number of traffic stops conducted by the department as of the end of September increased by more than 10 percent since the same point last year, according to a third-quarter report presented by police Capt. Dave Wilkie at the Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday.

Officers wrote more than 1,000 citations and issued 931 warnings during the three-month period and have written more than 3,100 citations total throughout 2015.

Wilkie said he contributed the rise to reduced traffic volumes on major city thoroughfares, including Villard Street and the Highway 22 corridor of Third Avenue West and South Main Street, which gives officers a chance to make more stops.

“Last year at this time, traffic was so heavy that oftentimes our officers couldn’t turn around on a violator, especially on Highway 22,” he said.

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The number of regulatory truck stops conducted by the department by the end of the third quarter increased by 33 percent.

Wilkie said Dickinson police made 135 truck regulatory stops during the three-month period between July and September and conducted of 214 stops throughout the first three quarters. Those stops yielded $48,155 in city revenue through levied fines.

A nearly symmetrical decrease in traffic accidents is “one of the outcomes” of the increased enforcement, Wilkie said. Accidents fell around 9.5 percent, with a total of 948 accidents recorded through the first three quarters of the year, compared to a total of 1,048 last year.

“I do directly contribute (the decrease) to more enforcement, more visibility of our officers out on the road,” Wilkie said.

Along with traffic accidents, arrests have also declined so far this year with 1,157 incidents representing a decrease of a little less than 5 percent since the same time in 2014.

Despite that drop, Wilkie said the department is maintaining a “large call volume” for service and has fielded a total of more than 23,000 calls for service, an increase of more than 14 percent compared to last year.

“It appears that our community is slowing down, but our numbers don’t seem to verify that,” he said, clarifying that all the calls are not “calls of dire emergencies.”

“They’re calls like, ‘I have a dog in my yard, there’s a bike in my yard,’ but they are calls for service that our officers are having to take,” he said.

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Dickinson Police Capt. Joe Cianni also presented third-quarter statistics at Monday’s meeting and reported that the department’s criminal investigation division has been involved, at quarter’s end, in 445 cases. Of those, the detectives of the CID currently have 80 open cases.

“The caseload is pretty fluid though it changes, fluctuates throughout the year,” Cianni said, adding that last year at the same time, detectives were running around 120 cases.

He contributed the decrease to the decrease in higher severity cases, but said the division has been able to catch up on paperwork and other tasks. He said CID officers have also responded to 38 call-outs as of the end of September.

Police Chief Dustin Dassinger said the nature of crimes committed in Dickinson had changed since a year ago, with violent crime more apparent last year than it is now. He acknowledged that “things are starting to slow down,” but said drug activity still poses an issue.

“Our main focus and our biggest challenge moving forward is how to get a better grasp of the illegal drugs on our streets right now,” he said.

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