Tuesday, October 29, 2013/lk
The Sunnyside Police Department added up the numbers for the Sunnyside City Council’s public safety subcommittee, and the data reflects a marked drop in police overtime and school gang referrals, while showing an increase in most violent crimes.
That’s according to reports provided to the subcommittee last night, Monday, by Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck.
The 39 gang referrals noted in May 2013, 127 in May 2011 and 269 in May 2009 were for those school years to date, not for the month of May alone.
Schenck noted the Sunnyside School District had 39 gang referrals for May 2013 compared to 127 for the same month in 2011 and 269 for May 2009.
Schenck attributed the improvement to the partnership between the city and school district.
As for overtime, Schenck provided the subcommittee with statistics reflecting a 48 percent drop in overtime compared to 2012. He said total police overtime is $101,505 for this year through September 2013. The total was $195,509 for the same time period in 2012.
That’s also down from 2011’s overtime figures of $298,527 through September.
Schenck stated that Sunnyside’s police overtime budget for 2013 is $80,575. By comparison, he noted Grandview’s police overtime budget for this year is $171,000.
Subcommittee member Francisco Guerrero said he would like to see Sunnyside’s overtime dollars decrease even more.
“From a business perspective it makes me cringe,” he said of overtime costs.
Schenck replied that the city is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and can’t limit its hours of operation.
“We’re committed to keep it as low as possible,” he said of overtime costs.
He said there are some overtime costs that can’t be helped, such as mandatory trainings.
In addition, Schenck said the department is down four staff members; with one officer leaving Sunnyside to work for another city, two on administrative leave and a fourth out due to an injury suffered during the carjacking/hostage incident last week.
Some of the statistics Schenck provided show an increase in crime, such as forcible rape with nine cases through September of this year compared to four at the same point last year. The nine cases to date are the most in Sunnyside since at least 2005.
Schenck said there’s a positive side to those numbers in that it means more cases of rape are being reported. Noting that rape cases are typically vastly under-reported, Schenck claims the fact more victims are coming forward shows an increased trust in police to handle the cases.
Assault cases are also on the rise in Sunnyside, according to the numbers provided last night. Those termed simple assaults rose from 122 through September of 2012 to 133 for the same time frame this year. Other assault cases rose slightly from 21 to 23.
Another violent crime showing an increase is robbery. There have been six in Sunnyside this year through September. That’s the most since 2010, when 11 robberies were reported through September of that year.
The only category of violent crime showing a decrease according to last night’s numbers, is homicide. There was one through September of last year and none so far in 2013.
Property crimes also are on the decline in Sunnyside for the most part. Arson, theft and non-residential burglaries are all down in 2013 compared to last year, while residential burglaries and motor vehicle thefts are on the rise.
For its meeting next month, the subcommittee asked Schenck to come back with up-to-date crime statistics and overtime numbers. Subcommittee member Theresa Hancock also asked for clarification on some of the crime statistics, particularly regarding shots fired calls.
Also for the next meeting Hancock requested a draft of a more detailed interlocal agreement regarding use of Sunnyside’s K-9 unit. She expressed concern last night about potential costs and liability exposure for the city over calls for assistance for the K-9 unit, such as the recent call-out from Fish and Wildlife officials to help track a suspect hunting after dark.
Sunnyside’s K-9 unit will be disbanded early next year, said Schenck, due to legalization of marijuana in this state.