The yearly report of activity from the Athens Police Department showed mixed results, with high-profile cases remaining unsolved, but some crime statistics seeing decreases in 2016.
Reports of crimes rose in several categories last year, including assault, up nine from 148 in 2015, according to the annual report released by Police Chief Tom Pyle.
Rape reports went up from 33 in 2015 to 40 in 2016.
Fights were reported 321 times, up from 281 the year before.
“Miscellaneous sex offenses” went up slightly in a year, from 17 to 18.
Noise complaints were also up slightly, along with nuisance party calls, prowler/trespassing reports and robberies.
Twenty more stolen vehicles were reported than in the same period in 2015.
Some categories of crime reports dipped in 2016, including burglary/breaking and entering reports, down to 194 from 249 in 2015; and thefts, at 796 versus 872 in 2015.
Alcohol offenses tipped the scales for APD’s arrest numbers, with 391 for the year, up from 365 the year before. Both numbers, however, represent the lowest numbers reported by the department in the past 13 years.
Narcotics related arrests were down in the latest report, along with arrests for theft, harassment and driving under the influence.
The department made no arrests in rape cases, but made two arrests on sex crime charges and 44 in assault investigations.
Robbery arrests were up from four in 2015 to 15 in 2016. Vandalism arrests also went up in the last year, from 32 to 52.
The significant events listed in the report included the unsolved case of the serial sex offender, for which investigators are still asking for tips. Last year, Pyle provided a digital image of the man they believe to be the suspect in multiple sexual assault cases ranging from 2006 to 2015. Last year, the department set a goal to develop a sexual assault response team. That goal is marked incomplete in the 2016 report. “…However, the multiple disciplines involved in sexual assault response met several times to discuss moving forward,” Pyle wrote.
Also mentioned in the significant events was the institution of Narcan, or naloxone, to field officers’ tool kit. The medicine is used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose.
The report noted that the police department has signed a service agreement with Lexipol, “a professional policy development company (that) specializes in police policy with an emphasis on risk reduction,” according to the report.
Another fest was added to the department’s coverage area, this time during Ohio University’s opening weekend.
“Opening weekend Fall 2016, we witnessed fest level activity that we anticipate will be the new norm that will add yet another full department mobilization weekend to the list,” Pyle stated in the report. With the addition, the police now have seven “department-wide weekend mobilizations.”
Others include the weekend after the opening weekend, along with Millfest, Highfest, Palmerfest, Numberfest and Halloween weekend. “Average cost per weekend including logistics such as food, fuel, outside assistance, payroll, etc. is about $10,000,” Pyle wrote.
The department reported a revised end-of-the-year budget of $4,057,385, funded mainly from the City of Athens General Fund. Grants were also awarded to APD in 2016, by the Violence Against Women’s Act ($60,000), DARE ($11,180) and the Federal Ballistic Vest Program ($2,088).
More than $1.8 million of APD’s budget went to payroll, which represented the largest piece of the budget. As of December of 2016, 32 full-time positions were filled within the police department, and 16 part-time positions were a part of the force.
APD was not able to complete their 2015 goal to become fully staffed.
This year, the department hopes to review “the potential for body-worn camera to be deployed in patrol division,” achieve full staffing and purchase more vehicles, according to the report.