GARNER — Garner police’s annual department report indicated an above average case clearance rate and decreased use of force and substantiated complaints of officer conduct.
It also added a second area of emphasis for its data-driven approach to crime and traffic violation.
The department, which will move into a new facility next spring, has been led by chief Brandon Zuidema since December 2009 and remains accredited by national standards organization Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
The report doesn’t include crime data; the Federal Bureau of Investigations releases statistics from 2013 later in the summer.
Garner’s police force cleared 44 percent of the 310 criminal cases assigned to general investigation, above the 31 percent national average.
There were four cases of serious misconduct brought against Garner police officers, which involved eight allegations, according to police spokesman Chris Clayton. Of those, two were sustained: one for rude or discourteous comment to the public or employees and one for failure of weapon maintenance.
Two more – another rudeness complaint and an untruthfulness allegation – were not sustained, which means they were not proved or disproved. Two allegations of unsatisfactory job performance, one of conduct unbecoming an officer, and one of excessive use of force were determined unfounded.
Uses of force by police officers was down 21 percent in 2013 according to the report. There were 44 separate applications of force including pointing a taser or gun. No major injuries resulted from use of force. A taser was used four times, and the weapon was pointed 10 times according to Clayton. Last year, there were 11 uses of a taser and 8 more incidents in which it was drawn.
Traffic stops down
The report also provided car crash and traffic citation data for Garner in 2013. There was a slight uptick in traffic accidents, with 1,211 crashes – 76 more than last year. But there were also 12 percent fewer crashes (384) that resulted in injuries in 2013 compared to 2012. Alcohol related crashes dropped 53 percent to six.
Traffic stops slipped, with a substantial 25 percent decrease in citations (7,996). That stemmed from a new records management system that initially created more work for officers and resulted in less time to make additional stops. The report says the process has since been streamlined to bring the per-stop workload down.
“We went with a new records management system that was completely different from the system we had in place,” Clayton said. “This was a huge change for the department.”
Clayton said despite decreased citations, officers still focused on key areas to keep motorists safe; speeding in particular he said increases the likelihood of accidents that cause major injuries.
The department also focuses on areas regarding crime as part of its Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety initiative. The department says it has used the approach to reduce crime and crashes in the area around where U.S. 70 splits from U.S. 401.
The police have added a new DDACTS enforcement area as of April 2014. The new zone has a rough border of U.S. 70 to the north, Woodland Road and Vandora Ave. to the south, Aversboro Road to the East and Timber Drive to the west. It also includes a section just north of U.S. 70 to Garner Road between Garner United Methodist Church and Benson Road.
The report also outlined several outreach efforts by the police, including the Police Athletics and Activities League as well as programming at the local high school.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland