Lonsdale Police report fewer incidents in 2012


Despite enduring a year of staffing shortages, the Lonsdale Police Department reported fewer incidents overall, this from Lonsdale Police Chief Jason Schmitz at the regular meeting of the Lonsdale City Council held Thursday, Feb. 28. 
Schmitz told the council that traffic stops were still the number one incident in 2012, accounting for 629 of the 2,952 reports. In 2011, the number of traffic stops were much higher, reaching 831. The lower number of stops affected the amount of citations issued last year as well. In 2012 there were 110, a large drop from the 302 written in 2011.
"Part of the decrease was due to staffing," Schmitz said, "and because the offices are not seeing the high speeds or motorists blowing through stop signs, which are the top two traffic violations officers come across."
He added that officers are still making traffic stops but are also giving more warnings.
Another area affected by the staff shortage was ordinance violations. In 2011, the department reported 100 ordinance violations, but last year that number dropped to 60.
Schmitz explained that ideally the department operates with four full-time and two part-time officers. Last year, one part-time officer was out on medical leave, and throughout the year three part-time officers were hired and then resigned. On top of that, a full-time officers resigned as well.
"For the entire year of 2012, the department was always in the hiring or field training process with part-time staff," Schmitz explained. "We are currently in the process of hiring a full-time officer and finishing field training with part-time officers Jordan Day and John Gramling."
In other incidents, there were 16 DWIs last year, up four from the previous year; animal complaints totaled 132, up three from 2011; 74 medical calls, up just one from 2011; 128 suspicious activity calls, up 13 from the previous year; and 31 domestics, down from the 38 in 2011.
Schmitz said they had many more damage to property/vandalism calls in 2012 as that number jumped from 28 in 2011 to 54 last year. 
"Part of the increase was due to the damage to property reports taken following Community Days and during the end of August when we experienced a rash of theft from vehicles and damage to property," Schmitz said.
Of course the most disturbing crimes reported last year were the two robberies at Casey's General Store that involved a handgun. Schmitz thanked the Rice County Sheriff's Department and the officers of the Lonsdale Police Department for their involvement in the case.
While being short staffed made for a challenging 2012, Schmitz told the council he has good candidates for bringing the staffing levels back to where they need to be, and is thankful for the staff that helped during the shortage.
"I would like to thank my full-time staff Todd Franklin, Wade Murray and David Orr for their hard work and patience while being short staffed, and part-time officer Eric Kline for all the weekend shifts he worked," Schmitz said.