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City notes another drop in its violent crime rate

The results are in, and Port Orchard is a safer place to live.

Port Orchard Police Department announced, with its release this week of the 2009 annual report, that the city has seen another year in reductions, per capita, in violent and property crimes.

According to the report, this is the second year in a row that the city of Port Orchard has seen decreases.

Previously, the city was regularly on the top 10 list for violent crime per capita among Washington cities.

In 2008, the Port Orchard dropped to 15th on the list and this year it dropped to 22nd in violent crime.

Port Orchard Police Chief Alan Townsend noted in the report, “In raw numbers, we did see an increase in aggravated assaults and thefts, while at the same time significant decreases in murder, sexual assault, robbery, burglary and motor vehicle theft.

“We continue to see clearance rates in our reported crimes that are significantly better than the national average,” he said, “which speaks volumes about the quality of work performed by the officers.

“One of the biggest milestones of 2008,” Townsend said, “was the annexation of McCormick Woods, The Ridge, and commercial property around Bethel and Sedgwick. This was a test of our resources as we saw a spike in calls for police service while we worked to get two new officers trained and on the street. I’m happy to say that the two officers we added have proven to be incredible additions to our department.”

Even with a higher call volume and a significant increase in the geographical area of the city, the POPD has continued to maintain some of the lowest response times in the county.

In 2009, the report showed the city saw significant reductions in violent crimes and property crimes at local schools.

“Hopefully by being engaged in proactive policing and outreach within the school system, we can help prevent illegal behavior, one of the goals of the school resource officer program,” Townsend said. “Our quality service audit numbers again show that customers who use our service grade us an A or A-plus in every category. We continue to look at ways to improve visibility in our neighborhoods, as just barely a majority of survey participants feel they receive appropriate police presence in their neighborhoods.”

Even while dealing with a higher number of requests for police service and the costs associated with two new officers, POPD was able to make that work with virtually identical budgets in 2010 as in 2009.

Townsend attributes the success in part to a federal grant that is paying for one officer and other cutbacks within the budget to fund the other officer.

“Budgets are obviously tight everywhere during these economic times,” he said, “but we will continue to maintain our primary objective to provide the highest level of service possible to our customers.”

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