Looking back on 2018, the City of Delaware Police Department reportedly saw a general decrease in crime within the city, and the department has instituted several strategies aimed at decreasing crime even further in 2019.
City of Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said last week that as the population of the city continues to increase, calls to the police department increase as well, and Delaware’s officers have become good at reacting to a variety of calls.
“We’ve done really well with how the guys use their time,” Pijanowski said. “Our line officers have become really, really good at wearing many hats.”
Pijanowski added many officers have become involved in community activities like Coffee with a Cop, Safety Town or Fish with a Cop, and they have used these experiences with the community to help reduce certain types of crime within the city.
“The same officers are out patrolling the streets and being really proactive with what they are seeing as the problems on the street,” Pijanowski said. “We’ve got guys here that as a department have really created a total picture of what you want to see in a police department. They really get that their job is to prevent crime … but at the same time, they get the need for community relations. They pitch and engage in some of these ideas, and the have done a really good job of connecting to the community.”
The police department reported that crimes driven by the drug trade such as petty theft and breaking and entering fell in 2018. In 2017, the police department took 38 breaking and entering reports, and in 2018, that number fell to 29. Likewise, petty theft reports fell from 396 in 2017 to 316 in 2018, while burglaries fell from 80 in 2017 to 49 in 2018.
Pijanowski said part of this decrease can be attributed to the work done by the police department, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, and numerous local agencies to not only prevent crime, but to stop addiction by linking addicts to services like Maryhaven or to mental health service providers.
“We are trying to make quicker connection between those with mental health issues and those with drug addiction issues to the providers that can get them the assistance they need as soon as possible, rather than waiting for something to become a chronic problem or end poorly,” Pijanowski said. He added that officers or services providers will follow up several times to try and help individuals get the help they need.
“We are really trying to hit people three or four times to get the services they need to fix some of the addictive behaviors that are plaguing them,” he added.
Pijanowski said in the past, law enforcement was all about “arrest, arrest, arrest,” but the department has seen the value of a more “holistic” approach to policing.
“If we can help someone, get one person to a treatment facility and save their lives, there’s a value to that,” he said. “That’s a countywide initiative with all law enforcement. That’s the really nice thing about Delaware County … we work well together … the more you’re partnering with your neighbors and treatment community, the better off you are.”
In 2018, Delaware police took fewer reports of marijuana possession, 90 reports down from 109, and fewer reports for drug paraphernalia, 54 down from 72 in the previous year. However, the police department saw an increase in reports for controlled substances from 92 in 2017 to 108 in 2018.
Additionally, violent crimes like assaults fell from 73 to 64 in 2018, as well as rape reports, which fell from 37 to 31 in 2018. Disorderly conducted cases increased from 73 to 95 in 2018, along with domestic violence cases, which increased from 21 to 27 in 2018.
Overall, the police department reported that officers took a total of 2,368 offense reports in 2018, a decrease from 2,614 in 2017.
Pijanowski said the police department was down a few officers this year due to new hires being in the police academy and other officers retiring. He said when there are less officers on the road doing traffic stops, police see an increase in traffic crashes or damage, but the department didn’t see that increase last year. In fact, he added, police saw a decrease in traffic reports.
Police conducted 4,598 traffic stops in 2018, a decrease from the 5,559 stops in 2017. The department saw a 21 percent reduction in injury crash reports (143, down from 181 in 2017) and a 1 percent drop in property damage crash reports (655, down from 663.)
Looking ahead to 2019, Pijanowski said the department will continue to adapt to fit Delaware’s needs.
“We are growing rapidly as a city, so we want to look at how we provide the best service possible by working smarter but not necessarily costing more,” Pijanowski said. “We are always looking at ways to address crime trends, and traffic safety will be always been on the top of our list.”
Pijanowski said the department will continue to value training its officers as much as possible.
“The more of that you do, the better you are at game time,” he said. “Officer safety and officer wellness is a big deal. We want to be better about caring for officers and make sure we are caring for them physically and mentally.”
Pijanowski said he’s proud of the work the department has done and thankful for the trust that Delaware City Council has placed in him.
“I’m proud of this department,” he said. “2018 was a difficult year in some aspects, but they don’t make excuses and they get out there and work. They’ve made some positive changes by doing that. I couldn’t be prouder of the work they do. I’m fortunate to have a city council and city manager that afford me some freedom to do some nontraditional things, and we appreciate it.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.