Police chief's column: Crime increases as weather warmsWith the warmer weather, we traditionally see at least 1,000 more police calls a month. Many of the additional calls are predictable and since our goal is to prevent crime before it happens, please keep these comments in mind.
By: Gordon Ramsay, For the Budgeteer News
With the warmer weather, we traditionally see at least 1,000 more police calls a month. Many of the additional calls are predictable and since our goal is to prevent crime before it happens, please keep these comments in mind.
One of the more common calls we receive is from people who are visiting our parks and trail heads and had valuables stolen from their cars. Purses, GPS monitors, laptops and other expensive items are targeted by our car burglars at these locations.
People also forget to put away or lock their new bikes. We know we will have a lot of bikes stolen this summer because it happens every year. Be sure to secure your bike.
Home burglaries happen year-round, but there is an increase during the summer months. We have seen burglars use a number of strategies over the years, including having a woman knock on the door (because some see them as less threatening) and ask for someone claiming they have the wrong house, or someone looking for a lost dog are a few of the tricks the crooks use.
Be suspicious and trust your instinct. If something does not seem right, call 911.
If they are using a car, get the license plate and thorough
description. If they are on foot, get a good description and
direction of travel.
We are making progress in reducing the number of burglaries we have. In the 1970s we had several years where there were well over 1,200. In 2011 there were 809 and last year there were 647. I’d love to see it go down to even more. We can do it with your help! Many of our burglars are caught thanks to watchful neighbors. Never hesitate to call 911 if you see something suspicious.
Nightlife downtown has really taken off in the last couple of years. I remember working downtown in years past when the only folks around were the building cleaners and a few very dedicated employees. Now, parking is at a premium in certain areas and we have had to reallocate staff to be on hand.
At bar closing time, the area around First Avenue West and First Street is often clogged with folks and we have to stage officers in the area due to the number of fights and other problems. I guess increased nightlife is more like a double-edged sword! In all seriousness, it is good to see folks downtown after hours. We are working closely with the bars to ensure there is no over-serving, to decrease the potential for problems. The management of the establishments has been very receptive to working with us.
We continue to work on ways to eradicate synthetic drugs from our community.
Our problem is unique. After synthetic drug busts elsewhere that I have read about, those store owners have all stopped selling the product,
realizing the seriousness of the charges and the additional time in a federal penitentiary is not worth it. These concerns, however, do not seem to have impacted the operation of the Last Place on Earth.
We now have a more-than-50-count federal indictment, local felony charges and a nuisance injunction all in play as we attempt to stop the sale of synthetic drugs. These drugs are ravaging our community. The impact is far- and wide-reaching. First, as many of you know, businesses in the area have complained of adverse effects.
Since the court mandate for the owner to pay for two police officers to work the immediate area, we have seen the problems dispersed into other immediate areas. Area businesses are noticing. Many have to restrict bathroom access, a problem they had not previously had. Sales are down at many businesses in the area. People are avoiding the area because of the behavior of the synthetics-users.
In addition to impact on businesses, the use of this drug is having a terrible impact on the users’ health as well as our health system. Many families have been terribly impacted by the impacts of their loved ones’ addictions. As I have heard many chemical dependency counselors say, when it comes to addiction, availability is everything. We will continue to work to eradicate these dangerous drugs from our community.
Contact Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay at 730-5020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.