DUNKIRK: Police activity up in 2013

If it seems like somebody somewhere is regularly getting into trouble of some sort, that just might be the case. Even a smaller city like Dunkirk has its share of assorted crimes and incidents that keep the Police Department busy.

There were a total of 37,842 calls for police activity, arrests and parking tickets, according to the annual report recently released by Police Chief David Ortolano. In 2012, there was a total of 39,966 calls, while in 2011, the total number of calls was 39,903. Those recent numbers are higher than the 35,831 recorded in 2008.

And while the overall number of calls in 2013 was down, there were several categories that saw significant increases.

Adult arrests totaled 1,464, including 938 males and 526 females. That total was nearly 20 percent higher than the 1,210 in 2012, which included 819 males and 391 females. A total of 2,309 charges were filed in those 2013 arrests, including 158 felony, 543 misdemeanor, 479 violation and 1,129 infractions, a 27 percent increase over the 887 infractions in 2012.

“Felonies would be the most severe of the criminal charges and depending on the degree of it, assault in the third degree would be a misdemeanor, assault in the second degree would be a felony and assault in the first degree would be a Class B or maybe Class A. The felony classes, Class A is the most severe, the same with a misdemeanor,” Ortolano explained. “Violations and infractions are just that, they’re not criminal offenses, whereas the misdemeanors and felonies are criminal offenses. Felonies can be anything from assault with a weapon or any kind of severe injury to someone.

“Most of our drug charges, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance, are felonies. Even to the extent of larcenies, they could start as a misdemeanor, depending on whether you take a candy bar or whether you steal $20,000. Obviously, things like negligent homicide or murder cases, things of that sort, are all felony charges. But really, the criminal offenses, most of them start at misdemeanors and depending on the severity of it, rise to a felony offense level.”

The rise in female arrests, from 321 in 2012 to 526 in 2013, is part of an overall trend of increasing crime by females.

“Everything that we’ve been dealing with, from petty things like stealing, things right on up through. A lot of our domestic offenses now are starting to be both genders instead of just the male side of it. Domestic offenses are starting to be where there’s more females involved with those,” Ortolano stated. “We’ve had several drug arrests where females were picked up too. The female arrests went up quite a bit, but I guess that’s just a trend in society that’s starting to even out male-female as far as who the bad guys are.”

There were also 220 arrests of juveniles, an increase of 15 percent from last year’s 191. There were 128 males and 82 females arrested on juvenile charges in 2013, including 20 felonies, 38 misdemeanors and 162 violations. In all, the report states there were a total of 3,842 arrest charges.

The chief explained the juvenile arrest numbers were not all actual arrests.

“It’s any contact we have with a juvenile. That’s why you’ll see on juveniles violations are the highest. If they’re out after hours or it’s curfew violation, we’ll take them home and we’ll document them. They are reprimanded and turned over to a parent.

“The criminal cases with juveniles all go through Family Court. We do have a few of those but most of the juvenile stuff … is mostly violations and dealing with kids on the street that are picked up, brought to the station and their parents get them or we turn them back over the parents after a reprimand.”

In addition, 2013 incident reports numbered 34,836; there were 2,807 responses to 911 calls; 983 prisoners incarcerated and 864 incidents of domestic violence investigated.

Traffic accidents included 316 involving property damage and 22 resulting in personal injury. Officers issued 1,336 tickets for moving violations and another 3,006 tickets were issued for parking violations. Failure to pay parking ticket charges were filed against 197 offenders.

Parking tickets were also covered under failure to pay parking, which the chief said will result in a doubling of the fine and a trip to see the judge – if necessary – and there the cost for not paying that ticket will go up even more.

An increase in traffic accidents, from 202 in 2012 to 316 in 2013, were a concern.

“Our traffic accidents are way up. November and December of last year with the early winter we had, just in those two months over 70 traffic accidents,” Ortolano stated. “I realize the weather has been bad, but people have to realize, and we preach it, take your time, drive slow, plan properly. But unfortunately, when the bad weather hit we did see quite an uptick in accidents.”

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