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Marysville Police report drop in crime

MARYSVILLE — Marysville city officials are crediting a drop in reported crime rates over last year to a police force that’s redeployed its resources and focused on analyzing and responding proactively to crime.

Although the city’s population has increased over the years, this year had only 36 crimes reported per 1,000 residents, a decline from last year’s 45 crimes reported per 1,000 residents, which adds up to a 15 percent decline in crime from last year’s reported rates through August. The sharpest drops were in vandalism and malicious mischief, which went from 604 reported cases in 2010 to 439 in 2011, and theft, which went from 1,103 reported cases in 2010 to 902 in 2011. Within that same window of time, vehicle prowl cases dropped from 321 to 268.

Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith reiterated that much of the credit for these decreases can be attributed to the redeployment of police onto the streets between 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., the highest crime period according to the department’s crime analysis data, as well as to the four-member proactive N.I.T.E. team of specialized, swift-action officers. The N.I.T.E. team — whose acronym stands for neighborhood livability, intelligence and investigations, targeted enforcement, and arresting offenders and education — served 45 search warrants and 94 arrest warrants through August of this year, and 91 search warrants and 138 arrest warrants through the whole of last year.

“That many warrants is not easy to get,” Smith said. “They use the latest crime-fighting and intelligence-gathering techniques, along with crime analysis data, confidential sources, and information sharing with detectives and patrol officers to deal with criminals where they live.”

The N.I.T.E. team’s purview ranges from violent crimes to illegal guns and drugs, and has seen their amounts of heroin seized go from 1,516 grams through the whole of last year to 663 grams through August of this year. At the same time, Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux acknowledged that methamphetamine abuse appears to have increased over last year, when the N.I.T.E. team seized 197 grams, whereas this year they’ve seized 398 grams through August.

Marysville Police Sgt. Brad Akau of the N.I.T.E. team cited a narcotics bust that was made in the 3800 block of 80th Street NE on the afternoon of Oct. 12 as evidence of the effectiveness of the N.I.T.E. team’s approach, which he’d touted at a community forum on illegal drugs the previous evening on Oct. 11. Akau noted that the N.I.T.E. team’s aggressive approach is intended to discourage criminals from operating in Marysville, and added that their efforts are targeted against dealers rather than addicts, many of whom are young people in the community.

“Some of these are kids I’ve coached in youth sports,” Akau said. “We don’t want to punish the addicts. We want to punish the ones that sell to them.”

While the reassignment of patrol shifts to overlap and provide maximum police coverage is a more recent response by the department, Smith started the department’s Crime Analysis Unit back in 2008. Bob Dolhanyk oversees the division, which includes his fellow trained crime analyst Don Castanares, who provided the statistics in this article. Castanares was hired by the Marysville Police Department in 2008 after retiring from a 20-year career in the Army as a Military Intelligence Analyst and Technical Intelligence Analyst, including several years as a Senior Security and Intelligence Advisory at Fort Lewis.

“We’re analytical people who like to figure out puzzles,” Castanares said. “We like math, charts and graphs, and we’re into technology.”

Castanares has applied those skills and interests toward the eradication of graffiti by maintaining a database of “taggers,” with extensive background information on each, from information compiled by Marysville Public Works and the Graffiti Task Force, as well as the city’s Geographical Information Systems mapping staff. Arrested taggers have their mug shot photos, samples of their graffiti and their known associates entered into the database. Graffiti incidents in the city have declined 28 percent from last year’s reported numbers through September.

“Crime analysis identifies, analyzes and proposes solutions to patterns and trends in crime,” Smith. “It’s a great tool that we rely on and use regularly, and our crime analyst is doing an outstanding job.”

Not only have the N.I.T.E. team, Marysville Police detectives and other divisions in the department utilized this resource, but so can other agencies through data-sharing, which Lamoureux explained allows law enforcement agencies to draw associations, communications and event analysis across jurisdictional boundaries. Castanares has shared his data with the FBI and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which inspired the former agency to approve the “Innocence Lost” task force in Washington that aims to rescue child victims and runaways exploited through child prostitution and sex trafficking.

Castanares and   agreed that criminals are often predictable, and drawn to what is familiar, comfortable and successful.

“Most criminals are creatures of habit,” Dolhanyk said. “We count on that. Crime analysis takes advantage of this human flaw.”

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