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Port Orchard fifth most violent city in state

Port Orchard’s crime statistics are out in the form of the 2004 Port Orchard Police Department’s Annual Report.

“This year’s report is the first ‘paperless’ annual report,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “This is the start of something that I hope will benefit all citizens by being easily accessible through our Web site as well as cut production costs.”

According to Townsend, highlights of the report reflect both positive and negative trends in criminal activity and crime prevention.

“The total number of citations increased in 2004, even with our inability to cite and arrest for driving on suspended license, based upon a decision of the Washington Supreme Court,” Townsend said.

According to Townsend, parking citations hit an all-time high in 2004 with 4,150 tickets issued, and calls for service increased by nearly 10 percent to an all-time high of 14,769, which Townsend said is significantly higher than the increase in population.

Townsend said vehicle collisions are down significantly, which he credits to an increase in traffic enforcement. According to the report, the department’s response time to calls is the quickest in the county with the number of calls for service taken by each officer is second only to Bremerton.

“We cannot be successful in reducing crime by simply responding to calls,” Townsend said. “We must have the time necessary to address the actual problems and to follow up on crimes. Without these resources, we will only continue to see higher crime rates and lower clearance rates.

“Since the number of calls for police service is not likely to decrease in the short term,” he explained, “we must work on a balance between adding additional resources and providing less service. This is often difficult for communities, since most citizens notice reductions in service more so than reductions in crime rates.”

Townsend reported a 33 percent jump in sexual assaults within the city, an increase for which he has no explanation. Robberies increased by 300 percent, but Townsend said the numbers still remain relatively low.

Aggravated assaults dropped by 22 percent.

“This is a very promising number, considering this is the largest violent crime group the city has,” Townsend said.

Motor vehicle theft increased by 200 percent, according to the report.

“This is very significant and, at least partly, can be attributed to a decline in active apprehensions and complacency of victims,” Townsend said.

The department saw a 5 percent increase in property crimes and a 4 percent decrease in violent crimes, yet still moved up higher on the violent crime list.

“We placed No. 5 in the state of the most violent cities per capita in the state,” Townsend said. “Bremerton finished first. There may be a direct correlation between the two. We finished 41st in property crimes. While still higher than desired, it is much more acceptable than the violent crime category.

“If we’re going to positively impact these crime rates we must continue to devote the resources to the problem,” Townsend wrote in the report’s introduction. “The police resources must then be partnered with our community’s willingness to prevent crime. Citizens must remember that while Port Orchard remains a small city, we suffer from many of the same crime issues that plague larger cities.”

For more information on the 2004 Port Orchard Police Department Annual Report call (360) 876-1700 or e-mail police@ci.port-orchard.wa.us.

The report is also available online at http://cityofportorchard.us/police_info.htm.

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