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Violent crime rate drops in Port Orchard

The results are in for the city’s crime rate, and Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend believes the numbers look good.

Good enough, in fact, to move Port Orchard down one spot to sixth place on the list of Washington cities — with populations greater than 4,000 — experiencing the most violent crime per capita.

“We’re proud of that, particularly when our neighboring city, Bremerton, saw an increase in violent crimes,” Townsend said, pointing out that the municipality directly across Sinclair Inlet remains at the top of the state’s list with 11.7 crimes per 1,000 residents.

And while Port Orchard only moved down one place on the list, Townsend said the reduction in crime was more impressive, since the rate changed from 8.8 per 1,000 to 7.3.

“What we’re even more proud of, however, is the reduction in violent crime rates overall,” he said, explaining that the city saw double-digit declines in both its violent crime rates and property crime rates — 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

All these numbers and much more information is in the annual report Townsend recently completed and presented to the City Council. To prepare the report, he said he uses numbers collected by his own department, along with statistics compiled by the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNET) and other numbers provided by state agencies.

While most of the crimes considered violent — including sexual assaults, robberies, and burglaries — had lower numbers last year, not all of them did.

One area Townsend said his force needs to improve is vehicle thefts, which increased by almost 10 percent over last year, from 88 to 96 reported incidents.

“We’re being vigilant in finding solutions to this problem ... but we also need the community to help by making sure their car doors are locked,” he said, explaining that most auto thefts are “crimes of opportunity” that can often be prevented by common-sense measures.

Townsend said another double-digit reduction was in the rate of property crimes, which decreased by 12 percent.

“This ranks Port Orchard as 58th in the state for per capita property crimes,” he said, adding that again the city’s numbers were bucking the trend. “While our (rates) were dropping significantly, the state was averaging an increase in both categories.”

Townsend said the lowered crime rates can never be attributed to one factor, and that credit “must be given” to both his police officers and community members for working together.

For his officers’ part, he said last year they made a concerted effort to crack down on repeat offenders, which he said made a positive difference.

As for the community, he said residents did their part by keeping an eye out for problems and quickly reporting them.

“Clearly we do not have the resources to police the city alone, and it is necessary to involve our neighborhoods and our business community,” he said. “Citizens who take an active role in assisting with the protection of their neighborhoods and businesses and who report activity to police have made an impact.”

Another part of the annual report that was new this year was the Quality Service Audit, which Townsend said was a customer survey of sorts conducted by volunteers who contacted recent crime victims and asked how the officers handled their case.

In nearly all of the categories, which included the officers’ courtesy, promptness and professionalism, Townsend said his staff rated 90 percent or higher. The only category below 90 percent — at 88 — rated their availability for follow-up work, which Townsend said was a reflection of staffing problems more than anything else.

Other numbers in the report noted that the city’s incidents of loud parties and liquor violations decreased last year, but the number of calls for intoxicated persons and disturbing the peace increased.

Increases were also seen in the amount of calls for domestic violence, animal problems, vehicle collisions and vehicle thefts.

The entire report can be viewed at the city’s website at: www.cityofportorchard.us

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