Despite increases over final six months, Cheney still ends 2013 with fewer criminal incidents than 2012
Overall, 2013 was a down year for the Cheney Police Department – and that’s a good thing.
Data released in the department’s end of year Monthly Activity Report show overall crime in the city decreased just over 20 percent as compared to 2012, with significant drops in assaults, thefts, drug offenses and criminal alcohol offenses. The largest was a 55 percent decline in criminal alcohol offenses from 40 in 2012 to 18 last year, followed by a 39.47 drop in drug offenses (38 to 23), just over 29 percent in assaults (72 to 51) and 18.75 percent in thefts (256 to 208).
There was also a 10.56 percent decrease in domestic violence reports, with the rest of the 11 categories remaining near, but still below, 2012 levels. The only category with an increase was homicides at one – which was actually a murder/suicide incident that took place in April.
The overall drop was actually an increase in crime reports from a low point of 28.8 percent through the first six months of the year. Also down was reports made by officers, 1,147 as compared to 2012’s 1,327, a decline of 13.56 percent while calls for service remained just under 2012 levels, 7,153 compared to 7,225.
Police Department Cmdr. Rick Campbell attributed the difference between the steady calls for service and the decline in reports and crime to a number of department initiatives, including an emphasis on technology to enable officers to stay in the field longer to maintain a higher presence as well as resolve issues. He also believes residents are being smarter about things, such as not leaving valuables in vehicles or out in the open.
“Officers are spending more time in the field and that visibility plays a big role in deterrence, though that is often times very hard to measure,” Campbell wrote in an email.
Felony and misdemeanor arrests were also down by 18.92 and 27.74 percent as well. Traffic citations decreased just over 31 percent, warnings just below 10 percent and contacts 13.58 percent.
Computer aided dispatch calls dropped 5.55 percent, with 57 percent calls for Cheney and 43 percent for Eastern Washington University, which represented a 17.24 percent increase. Time spent on paperwork – no contact orders, warrants, data entry and probation – also declined with the exception of warrants, which increased 93 percent, something Police Chief John Hensley said in an Oct. 24 story was a result of the service being performed more diligently.
Financially the department finished $130,131 below its 2013 budget of $2,645,300, spending 2,515,168. However there were four areas where expenses exceeded budget by significant amounts – general fund overtime (280.3 percent), training fund overtime (200.9 percent), building maintenance (137.3 percent) and fuel (121.9 percent).
Campbell said an officer leaving the department mid-year made some additional revenue available to cover the overages, with any remaining expenses being covered by funds in under spent accounts.
According to the MAR, that still leaves remaining unspent funds, which Campbell said revert back to the general fund and “are tracked in an ‘ending fund’ balance account.” That amount is then used at the beginning of the fiscal year as a “cash on hand” account to help fund the 2014 budget.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.