SIDNEY — Violent crimes, and crimes overall, have significantly dropped in Sidney over the last six years, Police Chief Will Balling told Sidney City Council during his annual presentation of the police department’s statistics Monday evening.
Balling opened with the Sidney Police Department’s (SPD) vision statement 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.”
“This goes through with everything that we do. We want to go above and beyond. Don’t want to be average; we want to go above,” Balling emphasized before launching into the department’s 2018 statistics.
SPD is still not fully staffed, Balling said, yet since 2012, officers have handled 51 percent more calls for service, five times the amount of drugs charges, six times the amount of individuals were charged with drug violations, and conducted six times more community service events.
Calls for service, traffic stops and citations have gone up over the last six years, Balling’s report showed. SPD received 10,000 more calls for service since 2012, and on average, officers handle 89 calls for service per day.
Crime is down 9.5 percent since 2012, Balling said. He pointed out violent crimes were down to 50 in 2018, compared to 80 violent crimes in 2012. His report revealed there were no murders last year in Sidney.
When asked what the decrease in crime is attributed to, Balling said, partially the officers, partially the public. Officers are proactive with traffic stops and getting out there and talking to people, he said. The public is also increasingly more involved to provide information by calling in or sending messages through social media, he admitted.
Robberies, aggravated assaults, property crimes, burglaries and breaking and entering numbers have all significantly decreased since he became chief in 2012. Balling noted there are three more forceable rapes listed for 2018, for a total of 24, compared to 21 in 2012. Some of these crimes could be categorized as sexual assaults, he noted.
Last year the police department responded to 31,853 calls for service, investigated 539 automobile crashes, and made 1,232 arrests. Distracted drivers are responsible for more crashes than people who are driving under the influence, Balling said.
Suspicious activity is largest type of calls police responded to last year, followed by parking complaints. Balling reiterated that citizens are keeping an eye out, paying more attention and reporting suspicious activity. The police chief ’s report showed there were 99 OVIs in the city; most of which occur on Fridays and Saturdays.
The department’s drug unit presented 144 felony cases to the grand jury. Balling’s report showed the department completed 173 reports including a drug code; 105 adults and one juvenile were charged with non-felony drug charges.
Police followed up 211 times with residents that overdosed, completed eight community-wide drug presentations and had 44 people contact SPD seeking help with a drug addiction.
Balling also reviewed SPDs Community Resource Programs. These programs include the 12-hour self-defense training program for women, RAD (Rape Aggression Defense), 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. Sidney’s former Community Resource Officer Mike McRill still works once a week with SPD to continue the work he started in the community. Sidney’s new community resource officer is Bryce Stewart.
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.
Balling’s report showed last year the department received over $167,000 in grants for body cameras, the Citizens Academy, the Teen Law Enforcement, tourniquets for officers, body armor, training room upgrades, the Law Enforcement Diversion program and for tasers.
Every officer’s training hours have tripled since 2012, Balling said. Command staff training has been completed, including FBI Academy, Northwestern University staff and command, the Police Leadership Academy and the Police Executive Leadership College, he said.
SPD was the first fully certified department in 2016 in the state of Ohio by the Ohio Collaborative Community Police Advisory Board, Balling said. Currently, there are only 80 departments (out of about 886 in Ohio) that are fully certified in the state.
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, Homeland Security Region 3, the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Rotary, Clear Creek Farm, Shelby County Counseling, Samaritan Works, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police executive board and committees, Safe Haven and Victim Services.
Balling said the majority of crashes in Sidney occur at intersection of Michigan Street and Vandemark Avenue. He said it is a very difficult intersection to patrol. Council member Steve Wagner asked if red light cameras are being considered. Balling said he is against cameras, and when Wagner asked why, Balling said it would be a lengthy discussion better suited for another time. Balling said he would love to return at a future council meeting to go through the details associated with red light cameras.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.