Like in 2018, calls for service increased at two of the main police departments in Monroe County last year, though the two that went up were different than in 2018.
Calls for service increased for the Waterloo Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, while they slightly decreased for the Columbia Police Department.
The Waterloo Police Department had 12,139 calls for service in 2019, up from 12,018 in 2018.
That was still the fewest calls for service in the county.
During those calls, WPD officers wrote 493 traffic tickets, 1,437 warnings and 159 criminal citations.
The traffic tickets and criminal citations were both down from 2018 by 252 and 180, respectively. The warnings were up by 352.
Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise did not have a definite explanation for the decrease in tickets other than that his department was short-handed for much of the year.
That will change in 2020, as the WPD has been OK’d to hire two new officers to get the police force back to its normal level.
Additionally, the WPD saw a decrease in arrests for possession of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine.
Those numbers were at 10 and five last year, compared to 18 and 25 the year before.
Traffic crash reports also went down, with 247 being written in 2019 compared to 301 in 2018.
Other notable statistics are that there were five more retail thefts last year (22), three fewer burglary arrests (three), 16 fewer drug paraphernalia arrests (five) and 10 fewer for possession of cannabis (eight).
As is normally the case, the Columbia Police Department had the most calls for service in the county with 14,653, though that is down from 14,745 calls in 2018.
Paul pointed to another positive for his department, which is the traffic statistics.
CPD officers issued 1,932 traffic citations in 2019, down from 2,460 in 2018.
Within that category, citations for driving under the influence, unlawful use of electronic communications and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident all decreased by varying amounts.
But Paul said the key metric was there were 20 fewer traffic crashes with injuries compared to 2018’s 72 because the Illinois Department of Transportation told him that is a barometer of the effectiveness of traffic safety measures on Route 3.
“Traffic injuries being down 28 percent is pretty significant, and I think that would be a reflection on law enforcement as far as what we’re doing with the traffic car and everything on Route 3,” Paul said.
Criminal arrests were also down by 63 in 2019.
Within that category, arrests for drug offenses decreased from 135 in 2018 to 72 in 2019.
Arrests for cannabis possession and possession of drug paraphernalia both decreased by more than half, while there was a slight uptick in arrests for possession of a controlled substance and possession of meth.
Those numbers were at 14 and six in 2019, an increase of three and one, respectively.
Paul said the increased police presence on Route 3 has contributed to that, as has the CPD having an officer on the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois and the DEA Task Force.
The main criminal area that saw an increase was motor vehicle thefts and burglary from a motor vehicle.
Burglary from a motor vehicle reports increased 329 percent from 2018 to 30, while motor vehicle thefts doubled to 14.
Paul said the CPD and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department have been working to combat this issue by having an officer assigned to the Metro-East Auto Theft Task Force.
Paul also reminded residents to do their part by locking their vehicles.
“They’re looking for unlocked cars, keys in cars and things like that when they’re doing the burglaries,” he explained. “But when they find the car that has the key in it, then they’re stealing the car also.”
Overall, Paul is happy with his department’s performance in 2019 and highlighted its work with other police agencies.
“There’s a great synergy with us, the Monroe County Sheriff, Waterloo and the state police where it’s like a force multiplier,” he said.
Sheriff Neal Rohlfing’s department saw the largest increase in calls for service after being down last year. It had 13,284 in 2019 versus 12,175 in 2018.
The MCSD also completed more reports from those calls, filing 833 reports in 2019 compared to 612 the year prior.
“A lot of that is proactivity from not only the (Aggressive Criminal Enforcement) Unit but the deputies on the road,” Rohlfing said. “Since we’ve been fortunate enough to have the funding from the county board to increase the deputies, we have the number of deputies on the road to not only handle the calls for service but be proactive.”
Rohlfing also credited that with the increase in drug arrests.
There were 23 arrests for possession of a controlled substance, which is up three from 2018. Arrests for possession of meth more than tripled to 35 arrests in 2019.
“Price has went down considerably, and the purity has stayed up very high – 95 percent purity or higher,” Rohlfing said of meth. “We don’t see a lot of cooks anymore because it’s so cheap and easy to get.”
Overall, Rohlfing said he feels “really good” about his department’s statistics.
“Anytime we can show numbers that can increase anything – much less when you’re increasing them 100 and 200 percent – some people may look at it like ‘oh is this a growing trend,’” he explained. “A lot of it, I just attribute to the ACE Unit and getting the right people in the right place who can be proactive and have the time to do it.”