Arrests Down In 2006; Police Short-Staffed

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The 2006 year was a typical one for the Payson Police Department with one large exception -- the department took over police service for Star Valley on July 1.

Despite this increased coverage area, arrests were down in 2006. Engler said the decreased number does not represent a decrease in the amount of crime in the area. Rather it is the effect of a short-staffed police force that has not been able to make as many on-view arrests.

Payson police through November of this year responded to 17,403 calls for service, compared to 17,832 calls for the first 11 months of 2005.

The numbers of adult arrests were down as well, decreasing from 1,235 incarcerations in 2005 to 1,127 in 2006. Juvenile arrests also decreased from 435 to 272.

For every 1,000 people in Payson, there were 38 felonious crimes that were reported this past year.

"A week does not go by where we do not charge anyone with a felony," said Payson Police Commander Don Engler.

The number of assaults increased from 2005 to 2006, growing from 146 to 177.

Taking on the police service for Star Valley, he said, might be one of the reasons there were more burglary cases in 2006 than 2005, increasing from 51 to 80.

However, cases involving thefts dropped significantly in the same time frame from 326 to 245.

Motor vehicle thefts in Payson continued to be pretty low with 13 vehicles being stolen, compared to nine the previous year.

Narcotics cases dipped slightly from 434 to 419, Engler said. The decrease is attributed to the fact that the police department only had one narcotics officer this year, compared to the two-person narcotics team of the past.

"The majority of this year we were running with only one narcotics officer," Engler said. "There is only so much one person can do."

Criminal damage, the police commander said, has become a big problem, and the PPD is asking the public for assistance.

The number of cases in 2006 increased by almost 40 percent from 2005, growing from 251 to 394.

"We are having a real rash of criminal damage," he said, mentioning paint-balling as one example.

"That paint does create a lot of damage to a lot of other (types of) paint," he said, adding that it is not considered a prank by police.

"There are damages, and they can be attributed to that," he said. Other types of criminal damage that caught the eye of officers are pellet guns being used to shoot car windows and the vandalism of Christmas ornaments.

He suspects the perpetrators are from 13 to 21 years of age, and the department is offering rewards up to $200 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of offenders involved in this crime.

There was one homicide in Payson this year, Engler said, compared to zero homicides in 2005 and one homicide in 2004.

Domestic disturbance cases decreased from 2005 to 2006 from 360 to 335, while disorderly conduct cases stayed exactly the same at 298.

Driving under the influence cases also decreased a little in 2006 from 2005 with 251 to 205 cases.

Non-injury accidents dropped from 324 to 308, and injury accidents stayed the same with 72 incidences in both years.

"That's a piece of good news," Engler said of traffic accidents decreasing.

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