MLT police improve efficiency

  • Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 7:30pm

By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Economic conditions have posed challenges for the Mountlake Terrace Police Department.

The easy fix would’ve been to make staff and service cuts, Chief Greg Wilson said.

Instead, the department looked for ways to become more efficient.

During 2011, the department operated within budget while maintaining services and staff and keeping up with mandatory training, Wilson said.

Police personnel presented a financial and program update during the City Council’s March 29 study session.

The department collected more than $340,000 in revenues last year, a slight drop from more than $347,000 in 2010.

Revenues are directly tied to filings, Assistant Chief Pete Caw said. Case filings increased from 3,802 in 2010 to 3,995 in 2011.

Calls for service decreased from 12,721 in 2010 to 12,519 in 2011, or 34 calls per day. Traffic stops increased from 7,566 in 2010 to 7,644 in 2011, or 21 per day, a nod to the department’s more aggressive patrols.

“Where there’s police cars and flashing lights, people are less likely to commit crimes,” Det. Sgt. Don Duncan said.

The 2011 Crime Mapping and Analysis Program, funded through a federal grant, allowed the department to buy software that helps it better map when and where crimes occur.

The improvements also meant receiving data from other agencies, including SNOCOM.

Traffic infractions also increased, from 3,946 in 2010 to 4,409 last year, or 12 infractions per day.

Violent crimes, such as robbery or aggravated assault, decreased from 52 in 2010 to 38 in 2011.

Property crimes, burglary or thefts from cars increased from 605 to 638.

Three major collision points were 220th Street SW and 64th Avenue W, 220th and 66th Avenue W, and 44th Avenue W and 228th Street SW. These areas saw nine collisions each last year. There were 15 collisions last year at 44th and 212th Street SW, a highly used area. The most common causes of collisions included drivers not paying attention, following too closely and failing to yield.

“We continue to have a strong traffic emphasis,” Special Services Sgt. Kevin Pickard said.

This emphasis includes officers assigned to focus solely on collisions.

The department also hired a part-time animal control officer last year. Verbal warnings, reports of dog bites and the amount of stray animals decreased last year as a result, Pickard said.

Community survey results measure how well the department is doing, Cmdr. Doug Hansen said. It pushes the department to excel and not be complacent.

“There’s no better way for a pulse of how the people feel,” Hansen said.

Survey results show the majority of those surveyed feel safe in their community and don’t hesitate to report crimes to the police.

“Citizens know if they call the police, we’ll respond,” Wilson said.