Dunkirk police answered nearly 40,000 calls in 2012

By GIB SNYDER

OBSERVER City Editor

Just over three incidents per resident. That is what the 2012 total of 39,966 calls for the Dunkirk Police Department answered for police activity, arrests and parking violations would average if the city’s 2010 census number of 12,563 is correct.

Police Chief David Ortolano recently released the 2012 report.

The numbers show adult arrests included 819 males and 391 females, a total of 1,210 adults on 2,021 charges. Included in the 2,201 charges were felony (156); misdemeanor (532); violation (435); and infractions (887).

There were 191 juveniles arrested on a total of 191 charges, including 118 males and 73 females. Charges included felony (22); misdemeanor (34); and violation (135).

Officers filed 36,764 incident reports. Included in this number were 2,903 responses to 911 calls; 909 prisoners incarcerated ; 603 domestic violence; 1,081 moving violations; 99 failure to pay parking. Total arrest charges numbered 3,381.

There were 3,202 parking violations, 202 traffic accidents with 158 involving property damage and 44 involving personal injury.

Most of the numbers are larger than those from 2011. One dropoff was in 911 calls, as 2011 showed 3,255 versus the 2,903 in 2012. One category that did go up was domestic violence calls, from 559 in 2011 to 2012’s 603; an increase of almost 8 percent.

Ortolano said he didn’t know the reason for the increase – economic or the breakdown of the family unit.

“The hard part about that is those are some of the most dangerous calls we go on. The thing with those is we don’t know what we’re walking into,” he explained. “It could be something volatile. It could be something simple. It could be something simple that turns into something volatile. And there’s times when you walk in and they’re swinging knives and it turns into something cordial. Those are the unforeseen ones that present a lot of safety issues for our guys.”

Ortolano said domestic violence reports take time as well.

“With the mandatory arrests and orders of protection and things like that it’s a lot of followup work,” he added. “It’s a lot of investigative work, it’s a lot of paperwork that goes along with those calls, too. The increase in paperwork for the state mandates on domestic violence, that’s a ton of followup work and investigation that has to go along with those.”

If there are children involved there is more to it for officers.

“We have to make sure they’re safe, get a relative to take care of them, call Child Protection Services,” Ortolano explained. “If the children are involved in it that presents a whole different set of circumstances, with charges, too.”

Vehicle entries and house burglaries are on the rise in the city with the chief noting that residents’ help is needed.

“When we asked for help on the burglaries we had in the First Ward area, once we put it out there that we were experiencing that, we were getting people calling in and that’s what we need,” Ortolano stated. “I think it does help when we go out and ask the community for help. They have responded and helped us.”

The chief added that he would rather have officers respond and find out something was innocent. He cited a recent example when a report of someone running from a house near the high school was reported. Police found the individual who turned out to be a student hustling home and back to get some forgotten school work.

“I’m glad they called. What if it was somebody who had just broken into a house? I’d rather send a car out to find it is a homeowner, or somebody, a relative or a friend, who do belong there rather than the next day have maybe a house broken into or something,” Ortolano said. “Our guys go door-to-door when we have these entries and they interview all the neighbors. … And they say, ‘oh yeah I saw something yesterday.’ Or they’ll call in and say, ‘I did see something two days ago.'”

The chief said responding is part of the job police do.

“That’s what we’re here for. Call us. I want to send a car. I want to have our guys check it out,” he explained. “That’s what we’re here to do for the community. I’d rather send a car out to check it out and have it be something good than rather not send a car at all.”

The numbers include incident reports the department generates in its part-time coverage in the town of Dunkirk, but the enforcement arrests are limited to incidents in the city, according to Ortolano.

The number for the police desk is 366-2266. The confidential tip line number is 363-0313.

Send comments on this story to gsnyder@observertoday.com