Eagle: Crime down, calls up | VailDaily.com

Eagle: Crime down, calls up

Kathy Heicher
Eagle, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” When Eagle, Colorado Police Chief Rodger McLaughlin tallied up the year-end numbers for his police department, he realized 2008 had been a very busy year.

McLaughlin says his staff of 11 officers handled an average 1,131 calls each last year, though crime reports were down 2.2 percent from 2007. Calls for service, however, were up 10.7 percent.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” says McLaughin.

One reason for the increase is that police and firefighters often get calls for people who don’t know where else to go with their problems., he says.

“We do a lot of things for people that don’t resemble police work at all,” says McLaughlin. That includes helping people find the correct resource to help resolve whatever issue they are dealing with. McLaughlin admits that translates into an increased workload ” but he says that end of the day, the result is the police department provided better service.

“We don’t tell people, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do,'” says the chief.

On the other hand, if a significant crime happens, McLaughin wants citizens to be assured that his department will “pull out all the stops.”

“We will track the bad guy down like a mad dog,” says McLaughlin, “We want to serve justice, and make sure criminals are prosecuted appropriately.”

The Eagle Police Department recorded 256 arrests in 2008 ” a 29 percent increase over the previous year. The chief credits a department policy that emphasizes follow-up on crime calls. The office has a case records management system and supervisor policy that encourages follow-ups on cases.

Even if the follow-up fails to glean new information, citizens appreciate the fact that the case they were involved in wasn’t simply closed.

Last year, that persistence and follow-up paid off when the police were able to arrest a man suspected of peeping into windows in the Terrace subdivision. Over a period of a year, police documented 11 actual peeping incidents, and recorded five additional suspicious cases. The stepped-up patrols and ongoing investigation continued, even when the peeper went dormant for five months during cold weather.

In early December, the 22-year-old suspect was arrested less than a minute after a 911 call reporting another peeping incident. That case is now being processed through the courts.

“People appreciate the fact that we’re out there trying to dig up information and investigate leads,” he says.

Although the department recorded a total of 1,214 traffic stops in 2008 ” but more than half of those resulted in warnings, education, or just courtesy contacts.

The chief stresses that Eagle is not a speed-trap sort of town.

“I am adamant that when we write a ticket, it is a quality ticket,” he says.

While McLaughlin feels his department is making progress, he’s quick to point out that there is still more work to do.

Community outreach is an ongoing goal. During the past year, the Eagle Police Department has set up a a neighborhood information network that emphasizes electronic communications. The police department notifies citizens involved in the network when a crime occurs in their neighborhood, so they can be alert to possible problems. At the same time, citizens are encouraged to use e-mail or the phone whenever they see anything suspicious going on.

The Eagle Police Department operates on a $1.4 million annual budget. The 11 officer staff (10 commissioned officers and one community service officer) provides around-the-clock service, every day of the week.

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