By CHRIS AGEE
Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan recently released his department’s annual report, which showed a mixed bag of anecdotal crime statistics for the year.
“This one’s really a cause for celebration,” he said as he delivered the results to council members last week.
Violent crimes were down 11 percent overall, in large part due to a 75-percent drop in reported rape.
Eleven robberies during the year were more than double the amount reported in 2011, though. Assaults dropped from 353 in 2011 to 324 in 2012 – a decline of 8 percent.
Property crimes rose 10 percent in 2012, though the entirety of that increase is attributable to a 26-percent spike in thefts. Locals reported 771 thefts last year compared to just 612 the year before.
The two other categories of property crime – burglary and auto theft – were both down significantly, Sullivan’s report showed.
Burglaries fell by one-quarter from 231 to 173 while auto thefts were down by almost half.
Almost all measures of officer activity were higher in 2012 than the previous year, marked by a nearly 50 percent rise in calls for service.
Local law enforcement also responded to more than 56 percent more crashes last year.
A total of 3,862 total incidents represents an increase of more than 13 percent in 2012, compared to 2011 and officers issued 2,623 citations – a jump of 23 percent.
Sullivan said he counts on his officers to make the right decision when performing their duties.
“I don’t push citations,” he said. “I want them to stop the violators ... but the decision on what they do with them after they stop them is up to them.”
Warnings issued, the only area showing a decrease, fell from 1,979 in 2011 to 1,690 last year, or 14.6 percent.
Sullivan’s report also included highlights from the MWPD budget for fiscal year 2012-13.
Salaries and wages rose about eight percent, the report shows, which is largely attributed to a 38 percent increase in group insurance rates.
By far the largest percentage jump in the agency’s budget is found in capital expenditures, which jumped 320 percent from $50,000 to $210,000.
Sullivan explained that anomaly stemmed from the accelerated vehicle purchase plan, which added new patrol cars to the department’s fleet.
Overall, the MWPD general fund rose from $2,297,320 in 2011 to $2,685,792 in 2012, a 17 percent increase.
Year in Review
Sullivan was selected by city staff to take the helm as police chief early last year and was sworn in Feb. 21, 2012.
Coming in to a new environment, Sullivan assessed the situation and held several input sessions with employees to determine the best way to move forward.
His restructuring began with a focus on restoring the public’s trust, increasing the training and technological capabilities of the department and establising a formal agency policy manual.
During the year’s second quarter, Sullivan spearheaded community forums in each of the city’s wards and invited the public to share ideas and shared the outlook of the department and the overall community.
Additionally, the MWPD added new, municipal police-style uniforms as well as the first of the new fleet of patrol vehicles during this period.
Sullivan also noted the agency’s work in dealing with noise complaints and the new citywide noise ordinance adopted as a result.
Other developments throughout the year included the implementation of Project 365, which is designed to spend one year reaching a statistically high-crime area of town.
Officers also gained new in-car technology through an agreement with the City of Lake Worth.
Through partnerships with other city and county entities, the MWPD was instrumental in establishing a local Children’s Advocacy Center and the Mineral Wells Fourth Responders Program.
The agency also equipped residents to become more involved through online crime prevention programs including Crime Reports, Leads Online, ReportIt and TipSoft.
Mayor Mike Allen reported his constituents have expressed approval of the MWPD and its leadership since Sullivan has taken the agency’s reigns.
“I’ve heard some very positive comments about the police department lately,” he said.
According to Sullivan’s report, the future looks bright for the MWPD in 2013.
With the completion of Project 365 in the southeast portion of town and the graduation of the first group of fourth responders, the department continues its focus on community policing.
The department is also set to implement a new records-management system and computer-aided dispatch system during the current year.
As approved by council, the MWPD fleet will continue to change as six additional Dodge Chargers are added to the lineup.
Officers will be introduced to even more new in-car technologies, designed to make police response quicker and more effective. Additionally, the advancements will include electronic case filing with the county attorney’s office.
The department will also take part in active shooting training, along with county law enforcement and other local authorities.