Police calls dropped 8 percent in Pacific in 2013, according to police statistics released by Chief Matt Mansell.
Police responded to 3,653 calls in 2013, which was down from 3,953 calls in 2012.
“A reduction of 300 calls is a huge accomplishment for a department our size in a town with a population of 7,000,” Mansell said.
The reduction came as a result of increased police presence and professionalism, according to the chief.
Mansell gave credit to the hard work of his department and their presence in the streets, but he added that several strategies had played a role in the reduction in complaints and crime.
The No. 1 factor is the number of officers on the street. By assigning officers to 12-hour shifts, rather than eight-hour shifts, the number of officers on the street at any given time went from two to four, with one overlap supervisor.
The extra number of officers was made more effective by reducing the sectors to which officers are assigned, Mansell said.
“In the old sector assignment system, one officer would cover an area from the bridge over the Meramec on Highway O all the way to Forest Glen Subdivision,” he said. “With the additional officers, those areas are reduced by half.”
The K9 unit also has an impact on the number of drug calls, Mansell said.
“The dogs have been tremendously effective,” he said. “Some drug users and sellers are actually moving out of town because of the K9 officers.”
The department has two full-time detectives, including one who underwent special drug training with the DEA in Quantico, Va.
“If you go after drugs, you will lower the crime rate,” Mansell said. “Drug users are spontaneous criminals, looking for victims that they can steal from or even rob.”
In addition to a standard force of 19 full-time officers, Mansell transferred one full-time officer to three part-time officers, working 90 hours a week, which increased the number of officer presence on the street by 40 hours.
The department also employs 10 reserve officers who beef up police presence during public events such as Cruise Night.
Neighborhood Watch also has played a role in reducing neighborhood crime.
“We use Neighborhood Watch to educate citizens,” Mansell said. “We talk about what to look for and citizens who want their neighborhoods free of crime are good listeners.”
As a direct result of Neighborhood Watch, police are called quickly if someone sees an individual fooling around a parked car, which, when added to the quicker response because there are more officers on the street, has greatly reduced the number of car burglaries, Mansell said.
There are things citizens can do to make themselves and their property safer from crime. One is to keep homes and parked vehicles locked.
“I tell everyone, if it has a lock on it, lock it up,” Mansell said.
Another, perhaps little known safety measure, is to keep important security information in your cellphone and keep you cellphone out of your purse, the chief advised.
A common cause for breaking into a parked car is the thief can see a purse on the seat of the car. When the cellphone is in the purse, the loss is compounded by the loss of time.
“I keep all my credit car numbers in my cellphone,” Mansell said. “If my wallet were stolen I can press a button and within seconds report my lost credit cards. Not to mention that by having your cellphone on your person you can call the police more quickly.”
Mansell also advises women to consider taking along a friend or relative when they go shopping.
“Thieves watch shoppers, especially women shopping alone,” he said. “They target the individuals who look most vulnerable.”
Although calls were down across the board, the biggest reduction was experienced in home and auto burglary and drug houses.
“From my point of view, the reductions are significant,” Mansell said.