Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 18, 2014

Council reviews SPD activity

Somerset — City officials were able to see numbers detailing the thousands of calls Somerset Police Department responds to on a yearly basis, thanks to a 10-year activity report presented this week in Somerset City Council.

“This gives you a little bit of an idea where we’re coming from, where we’re going, and what’s going on,” said Somerset Police Chief Doug Nelson on Monday.

Nelson said the last 10-year study was carried out in 2001 — which amounts to a 12-year gap.

“We deal and we work with the community a lot,” said Nelson.

Nelson noted that the department abides by a policy in which officers often stay with their cases through the legal process. Nelson said an officer can take a call, write up a case report, present that report to the grand jury, and move forward from there.

 “He can do every bit of it,” said Nelson. “We expect our officers to work cases and present them.”

Nelson, before presenting the numbers to city councilors, also noted that the department worked six officers down in 2013. That made a difference in how many gallon of gas the department used, according to numbers presented in the report.

Officers used a total of 50,095 gallons of gasoline in 2009. In 2010, officers used 50,744 gallons. That number went up to 52,295 gallons in 2011, before decreasing significantly to 45,364 in 2012 and 43,927 in 2013.

“If you’ve not got six people driving, you’re not using that much fuel,” said Nelson, who noted the department normally budgets for 50,000 gallons of gas yearly.

Nelson walked the councilors through the total calls for service the department had received between 2003 and 2013, which totaled 271,302. Out of that, 26,767 calls of service were made in 2013. That’s slightly lower than calls for service made in 2012, with 27,828 28,523 calls for service were made in 2011.

Nelson noted that calls for service are also generated through traffic stops.

Nelson during his presentation pointed out the number of parking tickets generated by SPD that were made in 2013 compared to 10 years earlier. Only 974 parking tickets were written in 2013, compared to 3,084 that were written in 2003.

 “We have fell off one that in 2013 with only 974,” said Nelson. “My thought process has changed a little bit on parking.”

Nelson said his ideology on parking tickets has evolved to one in which he prefers his officers write warning tickets to motorists. But he emphasized that those who park in handicapped spots without the proper tags will always be ticketed.

“You won’t get a break on that,” said Nelson.

Nelson said the decision to move away from strict parking enforcement came as a result of fewer officers and man hours. He also said he felt it wasn’t practical to cost “hard-working” people money simply because they parked in the wrong space.

“We have to be reasonable with our parking tickets,” said Nelson. “We’ve got to look at what’s important to us and what we want to do.”

Councilor Jim Rutherford said times have changed.

“30 years ago, it was a big deal, because the downtown area was different 30 years ago ... hopefully with our revitalization, parking could become a bigger issue later on,” said Rutherford, who called parking enforcement an “unforgiving” job. “I appreciate this turn-around.”

According to numbers presented by Nelson, SPD recorded 2,584 moving violations in 2013. Moving violations are charges such as reckless driving and speeding. Officers handed out 1,049 moving violation citations in 2003.

 “Huge, huge numbers and we work a lot of traffic,” said Nelson.

Although SPD continues to operate several officers down — three are now in academy and the department has yet to hire three others — the higher numbers can partly be connected to the city’s annexation of several major roadways, which happened in 2012. The city moved to expand outward on roadways such as Ky. 39, West Ky. 80, East Ky. 80 and Ky. 914. Those roads are heavily traveled, and resulted in a lot more work and territory coverage for officers starting in 2012.

Nelson said the city worked several fatal accidents in a row after the annexation, putting to an end a long streak without such serious incidents.

The department in 2013 worked 1,294 accidents — many of which were in the annexed areas, according to Nelson. That’s compared to 1,158 accidents in 2012, 1,127 accidents in 2011, and 1,113 accidents in 2012.

But those yearly numbers are still lower than accidents worked by SPD in 2003, at 1,305.

Nelson also pointed out that SPD officers made 3,506 arrests in 2013, a much higher number than the 1,501 arrests made in 2003.

 “These guys are out here putting criminals in jail,” said Nelson.

Nelson said the department made 259 DUI arrests in 2013, compared to 165 arrests made in 2005. Nelson said DUI arrests were included in moving violation reports in 2003 and 2004, which made it impossible to separate the DUI arrests from the rest of the 2003 and 2004 citations.

217 DUI arrests were made in 2006, and 234 DUI arrests were made in 2007. In 2008, SPD officers made 284 arrests, which increased to a peak of 348 arrests in 2009.

DUI arrest numbers fell in 2010, with 304 arrests made. 232 DUI arrests were made in 2011, which  decreased significantly to 187 DUI arrests in 2012.

2013, with its 259 DUI arrests, was the first full year since Somerset went “wet” in 2012. Nelson said the department has overtime available for DUI enforcement, and he said SPD worked several “saturation” details last year, which included road blocks.

“We wanted to get the message out,” said Nelson.

Rutherford pointed out that the amount of manpower and hours available can make a difference in DUI arrest numbers.

“If you’re short handed and you’re busy you don’t have the officers to do that,” said Rutherford.

The department’s warning citations came in much lower in 2012 and 2013 than in years past, with 1,238 in 2012 and 1,230 in 2013. That’s down from a peak of 7,066 warnings written in 2009.

“Some of our officers were trying to make a living by giving warning tickets,” said Nelson. “There’s times when people need a warning ticket, but your officers cannot live by it.”

According to the report, SPD officers responded to 21,431 business alarm calls and only 2,268 residential alarm calls between 2003 and 2013. SPD responded to 8,197 domestic calls in the 10-year period, and 3,582 requests for funeral escorts.

Officers also responded to 3,759 shoplifting calls and 12,292 calls about suspicious subjects or vehicles.

And Nelson emphasized the number of calls made by motorists who locked their keys in their cars. Over the 10-year period, the department’s safety officers responded to a whopping 30,373 reports of keys locked in vehicles.

Nelson pointed out the department saved people a total of $1.5 million over the 10-year period by helping them get in their cars without a base $50 fee.

“I cannot say enough for my safety officers and what they do in the community,” said Nelson.

In other news from Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting:

• The council voted to purchase a new ambulance for Somerset-Pulaski County EMS for $136,963. The city received only one bid during the open bidding process from Taylor Made Ambulance. Even though officials had been hoping to buy an ambulance for $110,000 or less, they decided to move forward with the purchase.

• Rutherford personally thanked the city’s wastewater department for helping his parents with an issue at their home.  

• The council heard the first reading of Ordinance 14-01, which involves excavation, erosion, filling and sediment control. The ordinance is a re-worked, combined version of several ordinances dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.

“We’ve been having difficulty enforcing all of the in-fill ordinances and erosion,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Mayor Girdler.jpg Bill puts freeze on occupational tax funds

    An addition to the late-passed Kentucky Transportation Cabinet budget contains an Easter egg of sorts that could have a substantial impact on Pulaski County — although Somerset’s mayor is downplaying it.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brenzel and LCRH sign cmyk.jpg Brenzel steps down as LCRH CEO

    Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCRH) has announced that CEO Mark Brenzel has decided to step down from the top leadership position.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • recycling.ht.jpg Science Hill elementary students promote recycling

    For one group of Science Hill Independent students, taking out the trash isn’t something they avoid.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • carrie dixon-wiese.jpg Local housing facility subject of $349,000 lawsuit

    A local housing facility is the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. Eastern District Court, with several major entities named as defendants — though the Somerset city attorney notes that’s actually more for their protection.
    The defendants listed included the City of Somerset, Somerset Independent Board of Education, and Pulaski County government, as well as the company Somerset East Mt. Vernon Associates, Ltd.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Last rescue adopted pic.jpg Last of dogs rescued from Nancy kennel is adopted

    The last of 27 dogs housed at a Louisville animal rescue center after they were taken from a western Pulaski County puppy mill in a January raid has found a permanent home.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pulaski gets small share of road money

    Some $200 million worth of road-building projects in Pulaski County during the past decade likely is the reason this county got only a tiny share in the two-year road plan hammered out by the General Assembly during the session that adjourned late Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • LaDonna Hurd.jpg Local firefighter dies from injuries suffered in fall at skating rink

    The community’s move to rally around a local volunteer firefighter, nurse, and single mother injured while roller skating has taken on a more tragic note.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAKE-FISHING FOTO.JPG Rising lake levels are improving area fishing conditions

    The rising level of Lake Cumberland is covering banks that have been bare for seven years and increasing habitat for game fish such as bass, bluegill and crappie.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebenstein, Jacob.jpg Local man receives 12 1/2 years in DUI death of teen

    An entire courtroom on Thursday was moved to tears by parents who spoke of the loss of their 19-year-old son during a sentencing for the man who pleaded guilty in his death.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • City agencies dealing with gas leak

    From the Somerset Police Department:

    If you use East University Drive between KY 1247 and KY 39 or live in the area, your drive may be affected by a gas pipeline leak.

     

    April 17, 2014

News Live
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks