The West Fargo Police Department appears to be keeping up with the city's growing population, as 2019 crime statistics were down slightly despite a rise in calls for service.
Acting Police Chief Jerry Boyer said in 2009 there were just over 11,000 calls for service, which includes anything from traffic stops and car unlocks to felony arrests. Ten years later, in 2019, the police department hit 30,122 calls for service.
"In my tenure, calls for service have tripled," Commissioner Mike Thorstad said.
However, the city's overall crime numbers went down slightly, with 3,561 property and personal crimes reported in 2019, down from 3,592 in 2018. In 2017, the total crimes were 3,603, which was down from a peak in 2016 when 3,809 were recorded.
"It's not very big, but overall the calls went up but the crimes went down," Boyer said Monday, May 18, at the City Commission's regular meeting. "It's not just done by one person; it's everyone on the team."
Boyer said in 2019 the department came in under its $7 million budget, although it promoted three new sergeants in 2019 and added three officers, including the new position of a community liaison officer, which was filled by former Patrol Officer Ryan Feltman.
Boyer said he is most proud of the new position, which is designed to identify, communicate with and educate the community about the many different cultures of residents in town.
"Ryan knocked it out of the park; he did more with that position in the first year of its inception than any of us dreamed would be accomplished," Boyer said. "The community outreach he did and set up, it's been an absolutely amazing job he has done."
Boyer said as the cultural liaison officer, Feltman educates residents so diverse populations do not fear the police. Feltman also works to help the department and officers understand nuances of the different cultural groups in the city.
Feltman also organizes community events, such as the popular Around the World event last summer. Boyer said community events and outreach across West Fargo will continue to be a priority for the department.
"We'll continue to do those events and continue to talk directly to the taxpayers and the public and continue to interact with kids and build those relationships.None of that will change as long as I'm around," Boyer said.
Boyer, who is currently the assistant police chief while serving as the interim chief, worked on the annual police report with former Police Chief Heith Janke. Janke returned to work for the FBI earlier this month. After a nation-wide search, the city of West Fargo expects to narrow down the list of candidates in the next few weeks.