Calls to Riverside police are up 10 percent year over year and arrests are up 15 percent, according to a quarterly report issued by the village’s police chief last week. Police activity in Riverside is up almost across the board, with more felony arrests, DUI arrests and traffic tickets issued in the first four months of 2011 compared with the same time period last year.
The report signals that crime in Riverside appears to be on the rise after dipping slightly in 2010. Police Chief Thomas Weitzel also announced last week that his department would now be issuing quarterly police activity reports to highlight criminal activity within the village and keep residents informed.
“I can’t tell you how busy we are with the staff we have,” said Weitzel, whose reports will also begin to track what his one detective has been working on. “Investigations is swamped. I want to start tracking it so I have numbers to back it up.”
The report states that Riverside’s detective has conducted 39 crime investigations since January, supervised 38 cases, reviewed 17 felonies and done 97 follow-up investigations. He has also responded to five incidents outside of Riverside as a member of a multijurisdictional agency.
While the Riverside Police Department is unlikely to gain another full-time detective in the near future, the department will be gaining one additional police officer this summer. The department currently has a candidate at the police academy, who will graduate June 30. That officer will then train alongside another officer for three months before being allowed to patrol on his own.
The Riverside village board last year budgeted for the hiring of a 19th police officer.
“Then we’ll have 14 [patrol] officers out there to respond to incidents,” said Weitzel. “I’m hoping it’ll relieve the scheduling issues and overtime hours needed just to fill the shifts.”
Meanwhile, there have been 419 more calls to police in the first four months of 2011 compared to 2010, and there have been 168 arrests this year compared to 145 for the same period in 2010.
The biggest increase the department has seen is in felony arrests. As of May 1, the Riverside Police Department had made 20 felony arrests compared with just eight in the first four months of 2010.
Drunk driving arrests are also up from last year, with 51 logged by May 1 compared to 36 for the same period last year. Traffic enforcement generally is up in Riverside, with officers writing nearly 100 more tickets in the first four months of 2011 compared to 2010.
The only categories seeing declines were misdemeanor arrests, juvenile arrests and accident reports. But those declines were minuscule, with just 10 fewer accident reports, two fewer juvenile arrests and three fewer misdemeanor arrests.
Weitzel said the idea of creating more frequent reports came from citizen requests for better and more specific traffic enforcement information, related to the intersection of First and Forest avenues.
The department released it first quarterly report in April. The information on traffic enforcement and criminal activity will be available on the village’s website in the future.
“The point of this is to inform the community and keep the board and citizens up to date on what’s happening,” Weitzel said.