E-town police get proactive
BY CHAD UMBLE, Staff Writer
The Elizabethtown Police Department took a more proactive approach in 2012, initiating more contact with residents while calls for service decreased, a report on the department's work indicates.
The police department's activities for 2012 were described in a statistical analysis that Chief Jack F. Mentzer presented Feb. 7 to borough council during its work session.
The report lists why and when police are being called, and provides details on vehicle accidents and activity in the school district, as well as a breakdown of all the police incidents in the borough.
With 5,887 calls for service, the department had 257 fewer calls than in 2011 and the fewest number of calls since 2006. Mentzer said he didn't have an explanation for last year's 4 percent drop.
"I don't know what that could be attributed to. ... It's just that we had a slight decrease in calls from 2011 to 2012," he said.
However, total police contacts were up 6 percent, rising from 15,467 in 2011 to 16,388 in 2012. A contact is defined as any interaction between officers and residents. Contacts include many routine encounters.
Of the police incidents, the department had 109 calls for criminal mischief, 38 for public drunkenness and 39 for disorderly conduct, in addition to 15 bicycle thefts, 14 loud parties and five documented cases of nuisance eggings.
Of the more serious crimes, police documented four rapes and 26 simple assaults. There were no homicides.
In 2012, the police department conducted two undercover drug investigations that led to multiple arrests and the filing of 20 felony drug charges. The investigations led to the seizure of 600 baggies of heroin, two vehicles, a shotgun and three handguns.
Also during the year, police wrote reports on one overnight burglary of residences and two overnight burglaries of nonresidential properties.
In all, police issued 248 non-traffic citations and 368 traffic citations, while giving 919 warnings.
The busiest time for police calls was between 2 and 6 p.m., with a total of 1,403 calls.
In 2012 there were 195 documented vehicle accidents, up from 186 in 2011. Forty-seven accidents resulted in injuries. The most common reason given for the accidents was careless driving, which was cited in 159 cases. Speed was cited as a cause in 10 accidents.
The police report shows that there were 28 vehicle accidents in the first four blocks of South Market Street. However, Mentzer reported that there was only one accident at the intersection of South Market and South Spruce Streets, even though that has been flagged for years as a problem intersection.
Mentzer said he believes people were more familiar with the intersection and found ways to avoid it. He noted that the signalization of some of the traffic lights typically allows for a break in traffic for cars pulling onto Market Street.
Council member Meade Bierly agreed.
"You can almost always get a break in traffic there because of the other lights," he said.
In another matter at the meeting, council members said they will designate the area around the Fun Fort in Community Park as non-smoking. Signs will be provided through "Young Lungs at Play," a Pennsylvania Department of Health initiative to eliminate children's exposure to harmful secondhand smoke.
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