Opinion

OPINION | Reducing crime rate tops Marysville’s agenda

The city of Marysville is committed to the safety and security of our citizens. For years, public safety and reducing our crime rate have been at the top of our agenda.

Through a well-trained and professionalized police force, smarter policing practices, and partnerships that bring together law enforcement and community members to prevent crime, statistics show that we are continuing to see an overall decline in criminal activity in Marysville.

In the recent presentation of my 2011 State of the City Address, I shared that crime statistics show that overall instances of criminal activity decreased 7 percent within the old city limits between 2009 and 2010, residential burglaries were down 18 percent, vehicle prowls dropped 21 percent and thefts decreased 7 percent.

When we factor in the Central Marysville Annexation in 2010 that added more than 20,000 new residents to the then-population in 2009 of 37,530 for a total population of 58,040, crime figures jumped, of course. Adjusted for the entire city limits including the annexed area, we saw an overall rise in criminal activity of 20 percent between 2009 and 2010, while the population grew by 54 percent. Over the same period, residential burglaries rose 15 percent, vehicle prowls stayed below 2009 levels at 3.7 percent, while thefts increased by 15 percent. In 2010 throughout Marysville 68 commercial burglaries were reported, representing a 24 percent increase over the year prior. However, commercial burglaries have been dropping considerably since 2007 when 117 cases were reported.

If we look at crime rates over a four-year period from 2007-2010, we see similar declines. Overall criminal activity dropped 17 percent within old city limits during the four-year period, but increased 7 percent once the annexation population is included. Over this same period, population increased 68 percent, from 34,482 to 58,040.

The important point is that per capita (per person) crime is down. In other words, population growth since the annexation has generated more crime, but nowhere near the levels that one would expect with a dramatic jump in population resulting from a major annexation.

The downward trends in Marysville and other communities seem to run counter to conventional wisdom. Historically, crime rates have headed up across the U.S. when the economy and jobs head down.

In 2010, the city hired eight new officers (and four custody officers), and just last month launched a police redeployment plan designed to ensure consistent police coverage throughout our entire community. Under the leadership of Police Chief Rick Smith, our officers continue to find creative and cost-efficient ways to protect Marysville’s families.

One example is the pro-active N.I.T.E. team of specialized, swift-action officers that in 2010 completed its first full year on the job. The N.I.T.E. team served 67 search warrants in 2009 compared to 91 through 2010, or about two a week, which is impressive output for four officers considering all the paperwork required. Felony warrants and misdemeanor arrests exceeded 2009 volumes; and the number of guns recovered tripled from five to 16.

  The N.I.T.E. team also had success in taking drugs off Marysville streets and out of the hands of young people.

While the volume of cocaine recovered is down in 2010, from 115 grams in 2009 to 22 grams in 2010, the N.I.T.E. team has seized large quantities of heroin — 1,516 grams this year current compared to 141.7 grams in 2009. True, it’s a disturbing trend that is hitting communities nationwide, but our Police have done an outstanding job rooting out the sources of heroin in our area, and will continue to do so.

Among other successful programs, through a partnership with the Marysville School District, Marysville Police expanded the School Resource Officer (SRO) program to four secondary schools. SROs are having an impact on criminal activity in these schools. Incidents in the 2008-09 school year totaling 1,013 fell to 847 in 2009-10, a drop of 16.5 percent.

The Marysville Volunteer Program (MVP) built up its ranks of volunteers tasked with various crime prevention efforts, and we expanded the Neighborhood Watch program. Our full-time Crime Analyst is also generating important information that is helping our detectives and officers on the street. These are just a few worth naming.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the men and women of the Marysville Police Department for their faithful and loyal devotion to duty, and putting their lives on the line each day to safeguard our lives, our property and our community.

If you want to learn more about these programs, I invite you to attend our free Marysville University class from 6:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23 in Marysville City Hall, 1049 State Ave., when we shine the spotlight on the Marysville Police Department. Chief Rick Smith and key senior police staff will share an inside look at the department, and some of the innovative law enforcement approaches and techniques that officers use to fight crime, target criminals and prevent crime before it happens. It’s a great introductory class for citizens.

With the right people in place, I believe Marysville will continue to trend in the right direction with the crime rate.

Mayor Jon Nehring can be reached at mayor@marysvillewa.gov.

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