The Saline Police Department appears busier and more vigilant under the leadership of its new chief, Jerrod Hart.
Hart presented the annual report (downloadable below) to Saline City Council Monday evening.
Traffic stops were up 65.9 percent and traffic violations increased by 65.2 percent in 2018 – Hart’s first year at the helm of the department. The increased vigilance was a result of many factors, including public and social media complaints about speeding, construction traffic and illegal turns, but also by a spate of car crashes in the city. Collisions on public roads were up by 10.6 percent to 208 last year – though still down from the 240 recorded during 2016.
In terms of Part A crimes (against people), the rate stayed about the same in 2018. But the department saw a somewhat startling increase in criminal sexual conduct cases. There were 10 in 2018 – the same amount as 2016 and 2017 combined. Most of those cases were familial. On the other hand, non-aggravated assault cases, were down significantly, from 41 in 2017 to 25 in 2018.
Theft appears to be on the rise. There were 34 reported larcenies in 2016. That number rose to 45 in 2017 and 59 last year. Retail fraud went from three in 2017 to 13 in 2018. Fraud cases jumped from 52 to 63.
There were 29 drunk driving cases last year, about the same as 2017 (27) and significantly more than 2016 (17).
Narcotics violations increased from 14 to 16, though Hart expects that number to decline because of the new marijuana laws.
Overall, Saline Police saw felony arrests are on the rise, going from 30 in 2016, to 37 in 2017 to 42 last year. Total arrests, after a major dip in 2017, rose from 197 in 2016 to 276 in 2018. There were 250 in 2016.
The police department collected 440 pounds of medicine for safe disposal at its “Big Red Barrell,” keeping that medicine from getting in the wrong hands.
Chief Hart’s report also included information about training, public engagement and community initiatives. Officers participated in active-shooter training with firefighters and EMS at Saline Middle School. Officers also participated in training for field sobriety tests, recognizing biases, child car seat inspections and more.
Hoping to battle the increasing frequency of fraud the department hosted two programs on scam prevention.
Hart said the department continues to strengthen relationships with community partners – especially the schools, where Officer Dave Ringe is now a full-time resource officer.
Saline added six members to the Saline Police Explorers Post 485 – bringing membership to eight. They volunteered 203 hours, including 68 hours at parades and festivals. They participated in 131 hours of training.
“We talk about a way to recruit the next generation of police officers. This is a phenomenal program,” Hart said, crediting officer Chris Boulter for managing the program.
In July, Hart launched Volunteers in Public Safety, which attracted six volunteers who provided 209 hours of service and worked at five events. Hart hopes to add six more members next year.
The Saline Police Reserve program added four more members, bringing membership to seven. They worked 719 hours and helped at eight events last year.