The Union Police Department had major changes in 2019.
In March, the department had to deal with three of their longest-tenured officers, including Chief Norm Brune, leaving. Brune retired at 43 years and two lieutenants left the department. After all the changes, Andrew Parker became the chief of police and Richard Neace became captain at the Union Police Department.
Following the promotion of both Parker and Neace, the department no longer had lieutenants, making the highest ranking officers under them sergeants.
The shuffling resulted in the department shorthanded for much of the year until officers could be hired. Despite the chaos and obstacles, the department handled the transition without cutting corners, Parker said.
“I believe that the department handled everything well and good,” he said.
Even though the department saw major changes at the beginning of 2019, giving it a bit of a rocky start, it finished the year strong, he said.
Despite the staffing shortage, Parker was pleased with the department’s annual activity report for 2019.
“Our statistics show that we are down in some areas but that is going to be expected,” Parker said.
One of the areas that was noticeably down on the report for last year was the total traffic tickets issued, which went down by 438. In 2018 the total number of traffic tickets was 1,248 and in 2019 the department only issued 810.
“I expected (tickets) to be down anyway with the shortage of people we had last year,” Parker said.
The rest of the report seemed to fluctuate in what increased and decreased. For example, the number of assaults for last year were 57, which was a decrease from 2018 with 85, but domestic assaults increased by 28 from 2018 with a grand total of 130 for 2019.
The number of deaths due to overdoses decreased; in 2018 the department saw 4 and last year only had 1. Parker said the decrease was related to the availability of Narcan.
Narcan is able to reverse the effects of an overdose. Police carry Narcan and it available for the general public to purchase as well.
Despite the decrease in the number of deaths due to overdoses, there was an increase in drug overdoses which in 2018 was 37 and for 2019 was 71.
Shoplifting also decreased dramatically with a total number reported being 54 for 2019, which is a major difference from 2018 where the department saw 139. Parker explained that there could be a couple of explanations for this decrease.
The main point he made was that people aren’t getting caught and that could be because shoplifters are getting better at not getting caught or it is not being caught or seen.
The number of total reports taken overall by the department to increased in 2019. The department took 3,016 reports, up from the 2,997 taken in 2018.