Weston police have busy year
Calls are up though not criminal in nature
The Weston Police Department had a busy year with police calls and other activity in 2016. But the majority of calls were not criminal in nature.
There were 7,647 entries in the Weston police department’s activity log for 2016. The log includes calls to the police department as well as self-initiated activities, such as building checks and motor vehicle stops.
There were 1,000 more entries from the previous year. In 2015, there were 6,969 entries. So far in 2017, from Jan. 1 through June 29, there have been 5,974.
The dramatic increase in entries is a new department-wide focus in proactively logging building checks, according to interim police chief Matt Brodacki.
“Each time an officer checks a building in town, whether it’s the schools or town center, we’re now logging it,” said Brodacki. “The increase in total logged activity directly reflects our new patrol plan.”
Brodacki started the initiative to log building checks after he became interim chief in February after longtime police chief John Troxell retired.
Officers do multiple building checks on every shift to ensure there is no suspicious activity or criminal mischief at locations around town. In the past, not every building check was logged onto the police department’s records.
In the entirety of 2015, there were 1,743 logged building checks, 25% of all logged activity.
In 2016, there were 2,332 building checks, 30% of all logged activity.
Halfway through 2017, police have already logged 3,176 building checks, 53% of all logged activity.
Calls from the public
The most common calls to the police department are for alarms going off.
“If the wind blows the door open to a house, or if a motion detector goes off for any reason or even if there is human error in entering a code on a locked keypad, an alarm can go off,” Brodacki said. “Even if it is nothing, we have to go to the house because there is always a chance it could be something tragic.”
There have been 422 alarm calls to the police so far in 2017. In 2016, there were 912 alarm calls and in 2015 there were 1,034 calls.
Medical assistance and EMS calls also account for a lot of police activity. Police have responded to 208 EMS calls so far in 2017, in 2016 they responded to 459 calls, and to 437 calls in 2015.
“We go on nearly every EMS call throughout the year,” said Brodacki. “That adds up to a lot of what we do. We’re the first responders to the first responders.”
Larcenies and burglaries appear to be on the rise this year in Weston. There have been 17 reported so far in 2017.
In 2016, there were 21 reported burglary and larceny reports, and 29 in 2015.
There is a difference between a larceny and a burglary, Brodacki explained. A crime is classified as a larceny when an item is stolen without a break in.
“A burglary includes breaking into somewhere to commit a crime and doesn’t necessarily involve anything being stolen,” he said. “If someone were to break into the school and spray paint the walls that would technically be a burglary.”
Additionally, burglary and larceny reports may range from having an item like an iPhone stolen from the front seat of a car to a bigger crime like the home invasion on Hidden Springs Drive last September.
At the call on Hidden Springs Drive, the homeowner reported he was met by three men inside his house. He said the suspects then fled on foot.
After the men scattered, Weston police apprehended them in wooded areas surrounding the house and subsequently made the arrest.
Since 2002, there have been 296 fraud cases reported to Weston police. There were 44 frauds reported in 2015 and 2016, and 13 fraud reports so far in 2017.
That means 34% of all reported fraud cases in Weston since 2002 have happened in the last two-and-a-half years. Brodacki attributes the recent uptick in fraud to the rise in popularity of the internet which makes getting people’s credit card information easier, leading to identity theft and fraudulent use of credit cards.
One of the most common self-initiated police activities is motor vehicle stops. So far, in 2017, police have conducted 399 stops. In 2016, there were 683 motor vehicle stops and 488 in 2015.
Brodacki said the most common motor vehicle stops are for people texting while driving, speeding or not wearing their seatbelt.
“It’s hard to say which we pull people over for the most,” said Brodacki. “We have specific days where we focus on one thing. One day we might be focusing on finding people texting and another day we might be looking to make sure people are wearing their seatbelts.”
According to Brodacki, the department switches up their focus regularly so the public doesn’t get the idea that the department is mainly pulling people over for one thing, which would suggest that they aren’t looking for other infractions.
“We usually only have two officers on Weston’s roads at all times,” he said. “We focus on the main roads.
Police also logged in a number of calls for motor vehicle accidents. They have responded to 72 accidents so far in 2017. In 2016, they had 136 accident calls and 144 in 2015.
There have been 14 reports of vandalism in the first six months of 2017. There were 20 vandalism reports in 2016 and 36 in 2015.
A recent act of vandalism in town was the defacing of headstones found at the Coley Cemetery in May.
On Mother’s Day, the police station got a call about a variety of headstones pushed to the ground. Due to the calm nature of the weather, the case was treated as an act of vandalism rather than a natural occurrence. At press time, no one has been charged in that case.
Reports of domestic disturbances and civil disputes have gone down in recent years in Weston.
There were 69 reports in 2015, 47 in 2016 and 12 so far in 2017. While the specifics of each report vary, some domestic calls involved physical harm while others indicated verbal abuse.
But while the number of domestic calls in Weston is dropping, the United States Department of Justice reports that only half of domestic abuse cases are reported to proper authorities. That means there may be a number of domestic incidents in Weston going unreported.
Overall, Brodacki said, Weston has very little major crime. “We’re fortunate to have such a safe community and we’re always trying to improve daily measures to ensure our department goals,” said Brodacki.
Some of the department’s goals, he said, include developing new and thorough patrol plans and fostering a proactive educational component of the department.
“We’re trying to embed ourselves with the community any way we can,” he said. “Whether it’s teaching seniors at the senior center, utilizing our school resource officer or maintaining openness with the public.”
Brodacki’s work as interim chief is almost done. Last week, the Police Commission announced it has hired a new police chief to lead the department.