By Chris Olson
Overall crime statistics for the city of Jamestown are down compared to last year, but Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger said he is seeing some upward trends related to the population increases out west.
The Jamestown Police Department released its annual report for 2013.
The department responded to 16,661 calls for service in 2013, which is down 3 percent from 17,188 in 2012. A call for service is anytime an officer is dispatched to a call.
Edinger said he attributes the drop to two main items: available housing has peaked, meaning the population can’t grow much without more new housing, and turnover in his department.
“We can’t add any population until we add housing, so that’s why we’re leveling off,” he said.
One of the more telling statistics for 2013 was the warrant arrests. In 2011 the department had 261 warrant arrests. That number jumped almost 35 percent to 352 in 2012. For 2013, there were 486 warrant arrests, up 38 percent from last year.
Edinger said a good number of the warrant arrests were for people from the Oil Patch who came to Jamestown.
“We’re having more contact with them (people from the Oil Patch), and we are arresting them,” he said. “Those are dramatic numbers.”
Other areas that saw notable increases were disorderly conduct, which went from 343 calls in 2011 to 371 in 2012 to 393 in 2013, a 14 percent increase over the 2011 numbers. Edinger said this is another area where people from the Oil Patch are having an impact on law enforcement efforts in Jamestown.
“We’re seeing it (disorderly conduct) mainly around the bar areas,” he said.
Having an influx of oil field workers presents a challenge to Jamestown’s police officers, according to Edinger.
“There was a day where it was predictable who we were going to talk to if we got a call somewhere,” he said. “Now when we ask someone for their IDs we see addresses from all over the country.”
One area where the numbers went down instead of up was in driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, also known as a DUI. There were 130 DUIs in 2013, down 43 from 2012 when there were 173.
Edinger said DUI enforcement is one area where the turnover rate of police officers has had an impact.
“We did more DUI enforcement in 2013,” he said. “We were down four officers, lost four very productive officers, for an extended period of time, most of the last quarter of last year.”
Edinger said while he is glad to have new officers on his staff, losing experienced officers and the knowledge they have of the area and its people can be a hindrance
“A new officer will see two people talking on the street, think nothing of it and keep on driving,” he said. “An experienced officer will see those same two people talking on the street and see those two people engaging in some sort of drug-related activity.”
For traffic citations there was another dramatic increase in speeding. In 2011, 191 speeding tickets, or citations, were issued. That number dropped to 94 in 2012 and skyrocketed to 232 in 2013. Edinger said most of the increase is attributed to more enforcement efforts and more people traveling to the western part of the state to work in the Oil Patch.
Citations for driving without liability insurance on a motor vehicle jumped from 42 in 2012 to 172 in 2013. Edinger said again most of those tickets were issued to people moving in from out of state, people who may not have had the money to buy insurance because they came to North Dakota to look for a job.
Sex offenders and
North Dakota State
Two other areas where the steady increase in population in other parts of the state are impacting Jamestown are in sex offender registrations and commitments to the North Dakota State Hospital. Sex offender registration went from 465 in 2012 to 545 in 2013. Edinger said this number is a little misleading in that when a sex offender registers in Jamestown, his registry is checked each month.
“So one sex offender is checked 12 times a year, and each check is recorded as a call for service,” he said. “We didn’t have 545 new sex offenders register here in Jamestown.”
State Hospital commitments rose from 171 in 2012 to 251 in 2013. Edinger said a lot of calls the department receives for State Hospital commitments are for local people. But, with the state population growing, he is seeing more people from outside Jamestown either being sent to the State Hospital to be committed, or are coming in on their own.
To view the annual report go towww.jamestownnd.org/files/police/2013_annual_report.pdf.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org