Police Chief Mark Evenson told the City Council Tuesday that the city’s Police Department Benchmark Report, initiated in 2008, is designed to track performance in four areas: Response times, Incidents of crime and crime rates, Workloads and Crime clearance rates.
“Few police agencies across the country hold themselves to this level of accountability by inviting public scrutiny of their organizational performance on a yearly basis,” Evenson reported to the council. “The Benchmark Report further illustrates our commitment to providing the best police services and information to our citizens.”
Highlights of the report include:
According to the report, response times for Priority 1 calls – immediate threats to life or a crime in progress – dropped by one second to 4:44 over last year. Priority 2 calls – high priority, but not rising to the level of an emergency – increased by nine seconds to 5:54, a small increase that “does not warrant concern at this time,” Evenson said.
Incidents of crime and crime rates
The report showed that 511 violent Part 1 crimes (murder, rape, robbery, arson and assault) occurred in 2010, an increase of 15 percent over last year. The majority of the increase involved simple assault cases, which climbed from 311 to 378. There were no murders last year and six rapes. Meanwhile, Part 1 property crimes (burglary, theft and auto theft) rose 20 percent to 1,117, mostly due to an increase in thefts.
Evenson said the 1,628 Part 1 crimes in 2010 are in line with the department’s average of 1,640 crimes over the five-year period before 2009. Last year’s report showed the total dropped to only 1,373 Part 1 crimes, which Evenson said appears to be a “statistical anomaly.”
Part 1 crimes occurred at a rate of 31 incidents per 1,000 population, higher than the 26.47 rate in 2009, but lower than every other year since 2001.
The department’s “Reactive workload” involves responding to calls for service, crime incidents, cases taken and traffic collisions. The department recorded 33,800 cases in 2010, down 452 incidents from 2009. The decrease was mostly due to fewer 911 calls, Evenson said.
“Proactive workload” refers to officer-initiated incidents such as traffic stops, arrests and other citations. That workload fell to 17,802 incidents, a 12-percent drop from 2009 due primarily to patrol and motorcycle officers on long-term disability.
Crime clearance rates
Crimes can be cleared two ways: either by making an arrest or by “exceptional means,” denoting the responsible person has been located and enough evidence gathered to support an arrest, but circumstances outside the department’s control – such as the arrest of the suspect in another state – prevent making the arrest.
According to last year’s report, the Brentwood PD’s clearance rates were below the national average for arson, burglary, theft and auto theft. That report resulted in increased officer training, community awareness campaigns and directed enforcement efforts in those areas, and the efforts paid off: the department’s clearance rates for 2010 are better than the national average in all categories except arson. Nationwide, police cleared 17.6 percent of arson cases. Brentwood’s rate of 15 percent fell below the national average, but represents an improvement over its own performance from 2009’s 13 percent.
“The 2011 Benchmark report reinforces that the men and women of the Brentwood Police Department continue to provide exceptional police services to the citizens of Brentwood,” Evenson said. “Even with the challenges of temporarily losing several patrol officers to long-term injuries and disabilities, both our police officers and civilian support staff stepped up to fill the void. I’m very proud of all of them.”