The Parker Police Department's annual report highlighted an increase in traffic accidents and a slight decline in the number of criminal charges in 2013.
The number of assault charges filed with the 18 Judicial District Attorney's Office went from 143 in 2012 to 109 last year, a 23 percent drop. Burglaries trended downward during the same time period, going from 130 to 93 and equating to a 28 percent decrease, according to the report.
Larceny charges went up 10 percent, from 674 two years ago to 740 in 2013, representing the only significant uptick in the target crime categories. Vehicle theft, vandalism and sex offenses all decreased. The total amount of filed criminal charges dropped 2.6 percent, from 1,720 to 1,676.
There were 1,132 traffic accidents in 2013, approximately 10 percent more than the previous year. The highest number of crashes — 44 — occurred at the intersection of Parker Road and Mainstreet; the second highest was 37 at Parker Road and Lincoln Avenue.
Citations, of which 98 percent were traffic-related, rose by nearly 7 percent last year, said Laurie Milord, crime analyst for the Parker police. Seatbelt infractions went from 118 to 147, while speeding violations dropped from 1,306 to 1,155. Red light violations declined 25 percent.
No homicides were recorded in 2013.
Analyzing the stats
Chief David King is pleased with any decrease in charges, particularly among target crimes, which he describes as “quality of life-type crimes” that can be impacted by strategically shifting resources to the right areas.
“We've seen a steady decline in all of our target areas,” he said.
In 2008, the number of burglaries in Parker was 161. With that figure now at 93, it signifies a marked improvement, especially when considering population growth. King says a constant flow of figures showing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly trend changes helps commanders determine how to utilize patrol officers. It's Milord's job to spot fluctuations, like a sudden increase in break-ins in one neighborhood, and bring them to the attention of police staff.
King points out that the statistics can sometimes be deceiving because the number of charges typically exceeds the number of incidents each year. For example, five charges might be filed against a suspect for the commission of a single crime. There is also less of a threat to the community than the figures indicate because they don't distinguish whether the suspects are known to the victims. A theft case might implicate a roommate, family member or friend, King said.
Amendments to how laws are applied might skew the numbers as well. Sex offenses, for example, have trended upward in recent years because of a change in the legal definition of rape.
How improvements came about
Public education is an important component of crime suppression, along with casual contact with the public, the police chief said.
“We have more units getting into the subdivisions and contacting citizens in a positive manner,” he said.
Just like the department does with officers, the Town of Parker is allocating resources to specific areas to get results. The police department will spend 11 percent more in 2014 than it did last year. The budget for supplies alone is up 49 percent, and information technology costs are rising 24 percent this year. Administrative costs are also up by 26 percent, and $470,000 be used to replace the dispatch radio system.
A total of $12.5 million will be spent on policing this year, not including the $1.9 million in loan payments from the construction of the headquarters near Lincoln Avenue and Dransfeldt Road.
Curbing crime also comes down to good old-fashioned detective work, King said.
“Truly these stats are indicative of the quality of policing that we're doing,” he said. “We're being proactive instead of reactive.”
By the Numbers
15,000: Hours of training by Parker police in 2013
5: Robberies in Parker in 2013
$12.5 million: Parker police budget (2014)
9: Arsons in Parker in 2013
1,132: Traffic accidents in Parker in 2013