That’s the word from Police Chief Mark Evenson, who this week delivered his department’s annual Benchmark Report. Begun in 2008, the report tracks the department’s performance in key areas to identify trends and help determine the effective use of department resources.
• Response times. Responding to Priority 1 calls (emergencies involving immediate threat to life, or crimes in progress) in 2011 took 4:48, up four seconds from the 2011 average. Priority 2 calls (high priority but not emergencies) took 5:46, down eight seconds from last year. The times are “very good for a department our size,” according to Evenson, and the slight increase in Priority 1 responses is “not significant enough to warrant any concern at this time.”
• Incidence of crime and crime rates. Violent crimes (including murder, rape, robbery, arson and assault) dropped 9 percent in 2010 to 463. Most categories were down, although rape increased from six to 12 incidents. Evenson said all of the reported rapes involved a spouse, boyfriend or someone known to the victim.
Property crimes (residential and non-residential burglary, theft and auto theft) dropped 3 percent to 1,080 despite a 43-percent spike in home burglaries, from 146 to 203. Evenson said public awareness efforts, Neighborhood Watch groups and increased patrols had been implemented to combat the burglary problem, which is being felt all over the Bay Area.
Overall, Part 1 crimes last year dropped 5 percent, resulting in a rate of 29.7 crimes per 1,000 residents. The rate is down from 31.7 last year, and other than 2008’s 26.5, this year’s rate is the lowest in a decade.
• Workload. Last year, the BPD’s reactive workload (response to calls for service, crime incidents, cases taken and traffic collisions) dropped slightly to an average of 538 incidents for each of the department’s 60 officers. Meanwhile, proactive incidents (officer-initiated incidents such as arrests, citations and traffic or pedestrian stops) increased from 292 to 307 incident per officer.
• Clearance rates. Cases can be closed either by an arrest or by exceptional circumstances, in which offenders have been identified and enough evidence gathered to support an arrest, but circumstances outside the department’s control (such as when the suspect is deceased) prevent an arrest.
In 2011, Brentwood’s clearance rate exceeded the national average in the categories of robbery, arson, assault, burglary and auto theft. (The national average is based on FBI statistics for 2010, the most recent year for which information is available). The BPD was below the national average in two categories: rape (33.3 percent closed by BPD versus 37.1 percent nationally) and theft (23.3 percent at BPD, 23.4 percent nationally).
Evenson also reported on other aspects of his department’s activities, including an increase in residents’ use of the department’s online reporting system for low-level cases. The new police substation at The Streets of Brentwood has proven popular, he said, and helps keep officers in the field instead of returning to the main station to file reports. Also, some reports can now be written and filed from officers’ patrol cars.
Other technological improvements at the department include new radios that enhance communication, especially with other agencies. Prisoner processing, evidence tracking with bar codes and video cameras now worn by all officers in the field are also helping improve the department’s performance, Evenson said. The department is also testing a system called Tip411, which will allow the department to notify residents of emergencies through text messages and provide residents a way to forward immediate, anonymous tips to the PD.
In summary, Evenson told the council that the report shows that Brentwood remains a safe place to live and work.
“Our overall violent crime is down 9 percent and our overall property crime is down 3 percent,” he said. “Our response times and workload levels have not significantly changed, and most of our clearance rates still remain well above the national average.
“The 2012 Benchmarks indicate that the dedicated men and women of the Brentwood Police Department continue to provide exceptional police services to our citizens.”