TORONTO - New officers, a new chief and new equipment have made the difference for City Police, as the department has nearly tripled its number of arrests in the past two years.
During the previous City Council meeting, City Police Chief Randy Henry told council in 2010 police had made 271 arrests with 339 charges and no written warnings given.
"In 2012 we had 759 total arrests, 1,053 total charges, 334 written warnings given and towed 164 vehicles," said Henry.
The number of charges and arrests have nearly tripled since 2010, and the number of written warnings went from zero. Henry said in the past officers gave verbal warnings to violators, but there was no record of the warnings.
"Before, officers would just give a verbal warning," said the chief, adding it was up to the discretion of the officer. "It was one of the aspects we looked at, and we realized with no record a (potential violator) might be given five warnings from five different officers, and no would know it. We give the (written) warnings to give a person time to (rectify) the issue.
"We're trying to keep things a little more organized now," continued Henry. "The officers work shifts and don't always see each other, so they didn't always know warnings were given."
Henry said warnings are usually issued for minor infractions, such as illegally tinted windows, and the department's computer system now tracks the warnings so officers can see if previous warnings have been given. He said the number of arrests and charges have increased because of new aggressive policies, changes in procedures, new, updated equipment and an influx of new, younger officers.
Mobile computers in cruisers along with license plate readers also have made a difference, Henry said, while a new video surveillance system monitors city landmarks. The days of "immunity" from arrest or citations "because of who you are" are long gone, particularly for student-athletes, he added.
"We also have more guys on the street now," said the chief, adding the department eliminated the juvenile officer's position and now uses Jefferson County 911 instead of a dispatcher in the evening. "We took the man off the desk (in the evenings) and did away with the juvenile officer, and that freed up another officer."
Henry said there are at least three cruisers canvassing the city in the evenings, and at least half a month there are four cruisers.
"We've cracked down," he said. "The (lawbreakers) don't like it, but everyone else seems to. We've got some younger guys out there now. The veterans are excited about their job now. The guys are definitely out there to help people."