SIDNEY — Violent crimes in Sidney have dramatically dropped over the last five years, Police Chief Will Balling told Sidney City Council during a presentation of the police department’s 2017 annual report, Monday evening.
When asked what the decrease is attributed to, Balling said, “The officers. No other reason. They are out there working their butts off. They are being out there, being active, doing traffic stops, being out there more and more. … it is them, not me.”
He noted, however, that one or two individuals committing crimes could cause statistics to “sky rocket,” but that over all, the officers’ work in policing the community has brought crime down. Traffic stops and citations have gone up over the last five years, Balling’s report revealed.
Forceable rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, property crimes, burglaries and breaking and entering numbers have all decreased since he became chief in 2012. Sidney’s numbers, he said, are very comparable with southern communities, such as Piqua, Troy, Tipp City and Vandalia. Balling noted there are three murders listed for 2017, but these are for drug dealers’ charges associated with overdoses.
“Everyone keeps saying with the heroin epidemic, fentanyl, and everything else, (that Sidney has a lot of crime), but we are not seeing it. We are seeing the overdoses, yes, in 2017 the fire department indicated that we responded to a ton of overdoses. But we are not seeing the thefts correlated with them,” Balling said. “— And I have no reason for that. I would assume our numbers should be a lot higher than what they are.”
Last year the police department responded to 29,679 calls for service, investigated 549 automobile crashes, and made 1,200 arrests. If drivers could eliminate distractions, Balling said, it would likely reduce the number of crashes by 50 percent.
The department’s drug unit presented 152 felony cases to the grand jury. Balling admitted that 2017 was a bad year for ODs in Sidney, but that the trend tapered off near the end of the year, and into 2018.
Parking complaints, Balling said, is no. 1 complaint that police respond to in the city. The police chief noted that about 92 percent of OVIs are alcohol related, and about 8 percent are drug related in the city. He said the Ohio Highway State Patrol (OSP) deal more than SPD with drug-related OVIs, as they are hard to detect. OSP often find people passed out at rest stops, he said.
Balling’s report revealed the department completed 152 reports including a drug code; 81 adults and 9 juveniles were charged with non-felony drug charges. Most of the adult drug related charges dealt with opioids.
Police followed up 144 times with residents that overdosed, completed 14 community-wide drug presentations and had 17 people contact SPD seeking help with opioid addiction.
The statistics showed 52 percent Sidney’s heroin users were male and 48 percent were female. Balling said the average age of a heroin user is 36 years old, and 96 percent of users who received naloxone (the generic version of Narcan, an opiate antidote) were white. The police department administered naloxone 15 times; the fire department administered over 300 doses.
Balling also reviewed SPDs Community Resource Programs. He said the 12-hour self-defense training program for women, RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) continues to be booked at every scheduled class. Other programs include Scams and Identity Fraud presentations, the Citizen Police Academy and Teen Law Enforcement Workshop for Sidney High School students, which is similar to the Citizen Police Academy. Another notable program is “Coffee with a Cop” that intends to facilitate communication and foster a relationship between the community and the police. Balling said the department also holds heroin and active shooter presentations.
SPD’s training hours has tripled since 2012 on average for every officer, Balling said. Command Staff training has been completed including the FBI Academy, Northwestern Staff and Command, the Police Leadership Academy, and the Police Executive Leadership College — none of which the department did prior to the 2013. However, the department’s overtime has come down over the last five years compared with the previous five-year period. Balling said SPD received $14,000 back from the state for training attended in 2017.
Balling’s report showed that last year the department received over $130,000 in grants for body cameras, the Citizens Academy, the Teen Law Enforcement, tourniquets for officers, body armor, training room upgrades and for the Law Enforcement Diversion program.
Awards SPD has received since 2013, Balling said, include the Ascension award from Miami Valley Risk Management Association for most improved, being the first fully certified department in the state of Ohio by the Ohio Collaborative and second place in the Destination Zero Award for wellness nationwide.
The department also has a presence on many boards in Shelby County, including Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, Shelby County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Shelby County Drug Task Force, New Choices, Homeland Security Region 3, the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, AAA, Rotary, Clear Creek Farm, Shelby County Counseling, Samaritan Works, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police committees, Safe Haven and Victim Services.
Balling closed by reiterating SPD’s vision statement, which he said they take very serious, when seeking to “exceed the expectations of our community, to adapt to the ever changing challenges, and to provide the highest level of service and protection to our citizens.”
Council praised Balling and the entire department’s work in bringing down crimeand for the awards and grants received. Several members thanked Balling and said they feel safe in Sidney because of the police department’s good work.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.