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Police service calls continue to escalate

Busy continues to be the name of the game for the West Fargo Police Department which wrapped up another hectic year directly attributable to the city’s consistent growth.

Statistics released in the department’s 2012 annual report reveal that calls for service grew by almost 4,000 up to 19,704 from the previous year’s numbers of 15,924 and that overall crime was up slightly from 2095 to 2391.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen describes the trend as “normal” because of the increase in the number of residents which has now risen to over 26,000.

Rasmussen said the increase in calls places higher demands on the department, comprised of 38 sworn officers and ten civilian staff, with nine volunteers.

“We have less time to spend on what I’d call general patrol and traffic enforcement. People like to see a squad car on “their street” occasionally and feel traffic is too fast by their house generally. With 4000 additional calls for service this year there is not much time for officers to simply sit and run radar someplace or do “routine patrol.”

Because calls for service fall into emergency and non-emergency categories, only 2,391 of the reported calls required additional follow-up. The end result was 1,936 arrests, both adult and juvenile in nature with the largest numbers for driving under suspension/revocation at 265, followed by warrants issued at 211, driving under the influence at 163 and drug/narcotic offenses at 134.

The more serious Part 1 crimes were up with 388 for larceny the highest followed by 79 for burglary and 61 for aggravated assault. Leading Part II crimes were 207 for assault, 172 for drug violations and 155 for vandalism.

The Investigations Division saw a spiked increase in the number of incidents with a total of 526 over 370 last year. Numbers involved several financial investigations including fraud and theft; several child abuse and neglect investigations; as well as high profile burglary, theft and stolen vehicle cases including an attempted murder case and armed robbery.

On the plus side, approximately 40 fewer traffic accidents were investigated.

Other statistics showed that: officers wrote 786 more traffic citations with a slight increase in DUI’s and a significant increase in speeding; and overall the runs to the West Fargo Public Schools were up slightly.

The report also touted the departments interaction with the schools and the community and the ability to provide educational programs on a variety of levels. “We continue to be involved in our community through various programs and events that include: Citizens Police Academy, Youth Academy, the TRIAD program for senior citizens, and Night to Unite, etc.,” Rasmussen said. “Our school resource officer program also continues to expand and we try to work with our business community to simply make West Fargo the best place possible to do business.”

Rasmussen has been chief for 18 years, joining the department in 1995. Mike Reitan was promoted to assistant chief in 2005 after joining the force in 1987. Duane Sall was promoted as the first lieutenant of the force in 2009 having served since 1992. Det. Sgt. Greg Warren a member of the West Fargo Police squad since 1975, heads up investigations.

City Commissioner Mike Thorstad serves as the Police Commissioner and acts as the board liason to the department.

Rasmussen said through the years the department’s mission statement remains the same -- “to provide quality service to residents and guests of West Fargo ensuring a safe community by protecting their constitutional rights in the most professional manner possible.”

He added all of this has been accomplished “thanks to excellent leadership by the mayor, city commission and city administrator. Also this truly is a cooperative effort by people who really care about our community, to include members of the police department as well as all the other correlating city offices and staff. This team is composed of everyone who works for and helps in anyway to make West Fargo successful as one the fastest growing cities in North Dakota.”