Rotary hears from police chief

Staff report

SIDNEY — Sidney Police Chief Will Balling addressed the members of the Sidney Rotary Club during their Sept. 9 meeting.

Balling shared information regarding 2015 police department statistics, drugs, forensic investigations, officer training, community events and department recognition.

“For a small community, the Sidney police department is very, very, busy,” he said. In 2015, the department responded to 28,451 calls for service, investigated 638 motor vehicle accidents, handled 3,220 incident reports, attested 970 adults, referred 132 juveniles to court, made 9,626 traffic stops, and issued 1661 traffic citations.

“That’s a lot of activity for 36 police officers! Just about every statistic is up, however, incident reports are down. The police department has focused its effort of increasing proactive law enforcement and the reduction of incident reports validates that the proactive approach is working. More simply stated, a greater police presence has dropped the crime rate in Sidney,” Balling said.

The chief discussed the drug problem in the city.

“Heroin was the main drug abused in 2015. The drug unit presented 168 felony cases to the grand jury and 14 drug-related search warrants were issued. The Sidney Police department partnered with the State Highway Patrol to conduct drug intervention operations. The department also worked with several other departments to reduce the amount of drugs coming into Sidney,” he said.

He reported that in 2015, there were 78 heroin overdoses in Sidney. This year there have already been 123 heroin cases in which Narcan was used to revive the user. Balling said that the department is beginning to see a shift of heroin users switching to methamphetamines because they are less likely to overdose and die.

Police officers in Sidney participate in ongoing training opportunities, Balling reported.

“Ongoing training is vital so that the police department and officers can sharpen skills required in the line of duty. Additionally, changing times, social media, cameras and ever changing policies dictate ongoing training for police officers and the department. In 2015 officers received professional training in domestic violence, human trafficking, firearms, defensive tactics, forensic interviewing, legal updates, pursuit driving,” he said.

Balling listed Coffee with a Cop, RAD self-defense classes for females, Safety town, cyber safety programs, active shooter safety programs, heroin awareness and drug education programs and Alice training as examples of the department’s involvement in community outreach. He announced that a recent grant award will fund the Community Police Academy, through which participating citizens can get a close look at the department, ride in a squad car and get an idea of how the department operates. The program last for 10 weeks.

Staff report