Crime increases, but so do arrests

Crime is on the rise in

Sequim, or at least the Sequim Police Department is making more arrests.

The department unveiled its 2007 annual report to the city council during an April 21 study session. According to the report, 13,467 incidents were handled in 2007. This is a 3-percent increase over the previous year’s 13,057. Arrests rose to 1,647, a 28-percent increase over the 1,287 arrests made in 2006. In a letter from Chief of Police Robert Spinks, he reported that serious crimes, such as burglary, theft and assault, jumped 26 percent and felony arrests were up by 162 percent.

“I don’t want people to get freaked out about that,” Sgt. Sheri Crain said. Filling in for Spinks, Crain presented the 2007 report to the council. Crain said despite the fact that burglaries, thefts and assaults went up in 2007, this did not mean that the pattern would continue in subsequent years. The types of crimes committed, Crain said, tend to fluctuate from year to year. According to Crain, many of the incidents were a reflection of a root problem — drugs — with suspects robbing, stealing and assaulting others in order to feed their habits.

“That’s where the rest of the crime is coming from,” Crain said.

The department attributes the increase to population increases throughout the county and Sequim’s continuing evolution from small rural town to a small city.

The county population surrounds the city like a belt line and now is greater than 20,000. Sequim has a healthy retail trade center that continued to expand — this and other factors combine to make the city an attractive target for criminal activity, Spinks wrote.

Spinks pointed out that there was a 10-percent decrease in domestic violence incidents and a 21-percent decrease in juvenile arrests.

Although crime has increased, the police department points to a number of examples of how they’ve been taking proactive, preventative measures to combat the criminal activity. By adding another detective, the department has been able to increase case clearances — investigations concluded successfully — by 45 percent, and the number of neighborhoods participating in Block Watches doubled. The department also adopted Target Zero in 2007, a state plan to end all traffic-related deaths and injuries by 2030.

“Sequim used to be accident capital of the state, I swear to God,” Crain said.

In order to achieve the objectives of Target Zero, the department transformed its traffic safety unit into a full-fledged division separate from patrol.

A number of officers were recognized for their proactive policing in 2007. Officer Grant Dennis made 168 arrests working the department’s graveyard shift and Officer Paul Dailidenas received an award from the state for 33 DUI arrests. Detective James Vorhies was named the department’s Employee of the Year for his work conducting numerous successful drug investigations. Vorhies, according to Crain, also is known in the department for his money-saving ingenuity.

“We call him MacGyver because he can fix anything with a stick of bubble gum,” Crain said.

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