Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

Police Department releases 2017 report

by JENNIFER WATERS
Editor

The Town of West Seneca Police Department recently compiled its 2017 Annual Report, reinstating the analysis for the purpose of gaining deeper insight into crime trends affecting the town.

(See editorial on page four)

West Seneca Police Chief Daniel Denz said that after much contemplation, he decided it was important to bring back the report.

“Reports that were generated by the prior administration were never widely distributed, so without finding much purpose for how they were handled, I eliminated them when I took over,” Denz said in an email to The Bee. “Now that I have almost completed my fifth year as Chief, I have spoken to the other Erie County Chiefs who do have an annual report done, and I can honestly say they have merit if distributed to the entire staff, as well as the Town Board and local news outlets.”

Denz said he charged Officer Jill Gallagher with the task of compiling the data.

The chief added that the report is not 100 percent accurate, as some 2017 data was not fully available at the completion of the report.

“The report gives us a very good view into the trends the department is experiencing and will be used for future planning,” he said, thanking Gallagher for her work on the project.

In the report, the chief said many advances have been achieved by the department in the past years.

“We have established a School Resource Officer program, Crisis Negotiation Team, Mobile Response Unit, Aviation Unit, upgraded various forms of technology, updated all communications with a renovated dispatch center, and supplied all our officers with take-home portables to increase efficiency and officer safety,” he said.

Additionally, the West Seneca Police Department:

Currently has 65 sworn police officers, 17 full- or part-time public safety dispatchers, and 13 civilian employees.

Provides constant patrol, proactive crime prevention and investigative activities.

Has been accredited by the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Council since 1993.

Offers neighborhood watch groups, school programs, bike patrols, Stop-Walk-Talk programs and citizen police academies.

“New York State Accreditation requires a minimum of 21 hours of required training per sworn officer. We exceed this standard to strive for excellence by staying updated and educated in all law enforcement related topics, constantly growing our knowledge and ability to best serve the community,” Denz said.

Training Report

According to the report, the department took on 101 courses, 1,667 training hours and 6,150 man-hours in 2017. In 2016, those numbers were 101, 2,135 and 6,009, respectively.

Police Call Statistics

A total of 17,938 complaint calls were recorded in 2017, compared with 17,607 calls in 2016, according to police call statistics.

Categories with the largest number of calls recorded in 2017 were assistance, 4,735; service, 2,179; vehicle and traffic, 1,434; suspicious persons, 955; community policing, 637; fires, 550; larceny, 486; animal complaints, 454; and family offense, 259.

Call types with fewer than 250 calls received in 2017 include assault, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, burglary, forgery, fraud, robbery, tampering, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, fireworks, noxious substance, drunkenness, narcotics, weapons, solicitation, harassment, calls for a subject with a gun or knife, fights, shots fired, unknown trouble, peeping Tom, landlord, tenant and neighbor disputes, unattended deaths, natural deaths, police information or investigations, snow removal, mental health, suicide attempts, missing persons, attempts to locate, referrals, other laws and unfounded reports.

An analysis of calls received in 2017 compared with 2016 shows the largest percent change in the areas of snow removal, up 400 percent; assault, up 100 percent; fireworks, up 58 percent; and referrals, down 45 percent. Overall, the total number of calls increased 1.9 percent.

Detective Bureau

The Detective Bureau is the component of the organization that is primarily responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime, the report said.

The bureau contains a division specifically dedicated to family offenses, responsible for investigating all cases involving juveniles, domestic incidents, crimes against the elderly, school-related initiatives, missing persons, and cases involving State School property in town and narcotic rehabilitation facilities.

The bureau consists of 12 investigators.

Ten detectives were assigned to the main bureau with two designated for special assignments that did not handle in-house cases.

Two detectives were responsible for the Family Offense Unit in 2016. Another detective was added in 2017 for a total of three family offense detectives and nine main bureau detectives.

Detective Bureau investigations totaled 960 in 2017, an increase of 7.8 percent from 2016. The case closure rate was 87.2 percent, down from 93.2 percent in 2016.

Investigations included assault, burglary, criminal mischief, criminal tampering, unattended death, disorderly conduct, domestic dispute, fire, first aid, harassment, narcotics, orders of protection, property, overdose deaths, promotion of gambling, reckless endangerment, sex offenses, stalking and suicide.

Family Offenses

The Family Offenses Unit saw a case increase of 26 percent in 2017 and achieved a 99.5 percent closure rate.

Most cases were in the areas of harassment, 197; domestic incidents, 103; orders of protection, 64; criminal mischief, 50; police information, 31; assault, 27; and runaway or missing persons, 26.

The unit saw a total of 562 cases in 2017, and three remain open at the time of this report.

Public Safety Dispatchers

Fire, rescue and EMS calls, increased 3.4 percent from 2016 to 2017. A total of 4,331 calls were received in 2017.

Index Crime

Since 1930, the FBI has collected and compiled data to use in understanding and improving law enforcement administration, operation and management, and to include fluctuations in the level of crime in America, the report said.

Index crimes are the combination of eight categories of crime — murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson — selected because of their seriousness and frequency of occurrence.

In West Seneca, five of the eight index crime categories decreased in 2017, with the exception of 13 assaults, seven sex offenses and one homicide.

Use of Force

When police respond to a call, there are times a subject displays aggressive and unpredictable behavior toward police. Based on the degree of antagonism by a subject, police said use of force may be required to control a situation and prevent further safety hazards to the public, officers and the subject. The use of force is the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject. Officers complete use of force forms any time this circumstance occurs.

In 2017, police report 23 instances when use of force was present, down from 25 instances in 2016.

False Alarms

Avoidable false alarms account for 1,715 calls police responded to in 2017 and 2016, costing a total of $9,650. Police said that in 2017, false alarms cost the department approximately $14.73 per call.

Stop DWI

New York State Stop DWI is a program that was established to assist counties in carrying out the mandate of DWI-related offenses to reduce the incidence of alcohol and drug-related offenses.

According to police, the total cost of the program in 2017 was $115,848 and $120,120 in 2016. This total includes personnel, fringe benefits, equipment, supplies and courts.

School Resource Officers

The School Resource Officer is a position created in cooperation with the West Seneca School District. There are five full-time SROs, staffed with one in each high school, one in each middle school, and one traveling among all of the elementary schools.

In 2017, resource officers handled 24 cases totaling 184 hours. These cases ranged from assault and burglary to criminal possession of a weapon, disorderly conduct, harassment, petit larceny, resisting arrest, strangulation and trespassing. Eleven cases were still open at the time of this report.

Fourteen cases were handled by the officers in 2016.

According to the report, these officers are charged with building positive relationships with the youths of the community that potentially encourage supportive attitudes about law enforcement and community unity that continue into adulthood.

The elementary school resource officer, along with the family offenses lieutenant, manages and facilitates the West Seneca Youth Court, a justice system for juveniles in lieu of Erie County Family Court. All members of the court — judge, prosecution, defense and bailiff — also are juveniles.

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