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Police Department releases annual stats

The West Fargo Police Department didn't rest on its laurels in 2011.

Instead, staff was busier than ever responding to a total of 15,924 calls for service, a 4,213 increase over the prior year as outlined in the 2011 annual report released last week by West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen.

Calls for service include both emergency and non emergency matters that require an officer's time.

Rasmussen said the increase in calls correlated with the growth in population as well as geographical area within the city.

"As you review this document," Rasmussen said, you will note fluctuations in specific areas, which I believe is usual and a sign of a healthy, growing community."

He added that he saw "nothing alarming in the stats. DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) were up by 31 over the previous year but some other things were also down from a number of years ago. It is kind of like a stockbroker. When you have a portfolio and not everything is up, that is actually good for us as a department. It just shows the makeup of a community and how it changes by the people that are in it and the officers that are serving and what they are in tune to. Sometimes we have officers that specifically like to work traffic, or others that like patrol duties and may be concentrating on particular offenses, such as burglary, or whatever."

"It's these ups and downs that really keep it healthy," Rasmussen stated. "The numbers also reflect the amount of time we have to work on specific areas." He said the department receives numerous calls annually from residents saying they would like to see a patrol officer in their neighborhoods more often to help control speeders, etc. This year calls for service were up over 4000 from last year - quite an increase - taking considerably more of the officers time and time away from doing such things as running radar.

Helping the response situation out, was the realization of the new southside substation for both the police and fire department, resulting in the division of patrol duties into a south and north district for better extended coverage in residential and business areas south of the Interstate.

Overall the West Fargo Police Department is comprised of 45 employees, ten civilian staff and 35 sworn officers, and eight volunteers, serving the city's population of over 26,000.

Rasmussen has been chief since 1995, Mike Reitan was named assistant chief in 2008, having served with the department since 1987; Duane Sall is the newest member of the administrative team promoted to the first-ever position of Lieutenant in 2009; and Detective Greg Warren, a member of the department since 1975, heads up the Investigation Division.

Other members of the department include: detectives - Derek Cruff, Trent Stanton, Tim Runcorn and Randy Burkhartsmeier; patrol sergeants - Jason Dura, Gary Bommersbach, Jerry Boyer and Jason Anderson; patrol officers - Don Loberg, Joe Birrenkott, Stacy Dawkins, Rhonda Jorgensen, Pete Nielsen, Mark Morris, Tyler Williams, Ken Zeeb, Ryan O'Donnell, Patrick Hanson, Ryan Denis, Travis Johnson, Shane Orn, Adam Gustafson, Dustin Manecke, Jorge Gonzalez, Rex Johnson and Dora Roll; juvenile officer - Terry Styf; School Resource Officers - Todd Pearson, Jason Balvik, and Skyler Dutton; DARE officer - Eric Wiinanen; police records - Marcy Overby; crime free housing coordinator - Pam Cota; police clerk staff - Tracy Haugen, Melanie Johnson, Dana Eifert, Sylvie Schweyen and Jason Vollmer; secretary staff - Margy Larson and Nicole Nold; and chaplain - Vern Baardson .

The Investigation Department saw an increase in the number of incidents investigated at 370, including some high profile cases involving stalking, auto theft and armed robbery.

All in all, the overall crime reporting statistics were down from the prior year, with a total of 2095 crimes reported.

West Fargo Municipal Court saw a minimal rise in receipts with $228,541.87collected for both criminal and non-criminal court cases.

Other statistics revealed: 1829 arrests involving juveniles and adults; 881 parking tickets, 2509 citations with the largest amounts of 974 for speeding, 188 for DUS/DUR, 141 for DUI/APC and 103 for seatbelt violation.

Drugs also played a factor in the calls responded to. There were a total of 249 drug arrests, with the highest number 119 for possession of drug paraphernalia, followed by possession of marijuana and other narcotics.

The police also made intermittent runs to the West Fargo public schools on various calls ranging from unruly juveniles, truancy calls, to vandalism and disorderly conducts or simple assaults. School Resource Officers at Cheney Middle School and West Fargo High School handle calls there for the most part, but sometimes assistance is needed or response is required to the elementary schools.

The report also revealed that the department continues to provide a wide variety of educational programs for all age levels; and that department members continued to excel as the recipients of prestigious awards and recognition throughout the year.

Rasmussen said that the department is proud of their service and the role they play in making the community a safer place to live.

"We all express our appreciation to the city commission and the wonderful community we serve. Our residents and the leaders they have elected make it possible for us to work and raise our families in a great place."