Recently the Platteville Police Department compiled and put the finishing touches on our annual report for 2012.
Working on the annual report always provides me with a good opportunity to assess what we accomplished in the previous year and it also causes me to look ahead in an attempt to channel my inner futurist.
This past year was a year dominated locally by parking concerns (as the editor of our favorite local newspaper is fond of reminding us!). Although there was a lot of concern and fear that the opening of the Rountree Commons residence hall was going to create havoc with parking in many neighborhoods, it quickly became largely a non-issue once some issues with the parking ordinance were clarified and ironed out (i.e. parking during events at the stadium).
I still think a few strategic tweaks may be needed so that our city parking regulations better reflect what certain parts of the city want and expect in terms of penalties and regulations in their individual neighborhoods. But until the residents in these areas make their collective preferences known to the Common Council, they need to recognize that the Police Department’s ability to make exceptions and offer excused parking is extremely limited and they need to live with the parking regulations that are currently on the books.
As we begin 2013, we have assigned two additional detectives to assist with investigations, bringing our total number of investigators to three. We have been experiencing an increase in investigations that are time-consuming and require officers to seek and obtain information through the use of court orders and subpoenas and require increased interaction with the District Attorney’s office and the courts.
The nature of many of our investigations is also changing as we are seeing an increase in identity theft cases and more involved financial investigations that require officers to devote a lot of time to gathering and reviewing data and pursuing interviews outside of the city. With the statewide prediction for the increased use of heroin and methamphetamine, we also plan to utilize the detectives to assist the Richland–Iowa–Grant Drug Task Force on a more regular basis with investigations that impact the Platteville area.
I also hope to have the two new detectives assume a more active, visible role in the city’s schools. I believe the re-assignment of two detectives from the patrol division will actually free up our remaining patrol officers to engage in traditional, high-visibility duties such as traffic enforcement, building security checks and increased community policing contacts. It’s important to understand that the two detectives are not new or additional officers added to our department; we have simply shifted their assigned duties from patrol to investigations.
We will be focusing much of our enforcement efforts on issues related to alcohol use. It’s no secret that many of the problems that erode the quality of life here in Platteville stem from the use of alcohol. As a result we’re trying to come up with new ways to impact the issues of underage consumption, overserving of patrons, and public intoxication, specifically when it leads to disorderly behavior and fights.
Just because we’re seeking new and improved tactics doesn’t mean that we won’t rely on proven methods such as increased bar checks, lots of foot patrol downtown and in neighborhoods experiencing problems, underage compliance checks at licensed premises, and increased enforcement at house parties when we have the opportunity.
Increased enrollment at UW–Platteville will continue to drive much of what we do based on the simple reality that police officers tend to have the most contact with individuals in the age range of 18 to 24. Based on our status as a small city with a rapidly growing university, this age demographic is vastly higher than in a comparably sized city without a university. This fact tends to skew the number and the nature of our calls for service and the number of officers who are needed to police the city.
Please take the opportunity to check out the PD’s 2012 annual report. It contains photos and brief bios on our staff and explains how the department is organized and lists statistics related to crimes and calls for service. We’ve posted it on our website at www.platteville.org/CityDepts/PublicSafety/PlattevillePoliceDepartment/tabid/1795/Default.aspx.
The Community Corner is a weekly column of opinion written by guest columnists UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields; Platteville School District Superintendent Connie Valenza; Chamber Director Kathy Kopp; Main Street Program Director Jack Luedtke; Common Council President Mike Dalecki, Platteville Recreation Coordinator Jordan Burress, State Rep. Travis Tranel, Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke and Police Chief Doug McKinley.