Police chief says overall crime down significantly in 2019
Statistics show the crime rate in Bartlesville fell for certain crimes in 2019 when compared to the prior year, Police Chief Tracy Roles said recently.
“Crime statistics is just one of the measures we use to see how good a job we’re doing,” Roles said, noting that violent crimes and property crimes showed a noticeable decrease last year compared to 2018. “It’s important that we don’t get caught up in percentages — you could have one homicide this year and two homicides next year and that will reflect as a 100 percent increase — but the overall decreases indicate our police officers are doing a good job.”
Perhaps just as importantly or even more so, Roles said, is the numbers are an indicator of citizen involvement in their community.
“Citizens are doing a great job of assisting us in preventing these crimes from occurring,” he said. “They’re calling us more and trusting us more. They’re working in partnership with the police department, and that plays a significant role in bringing these numbers down.”
In addition to citizen involvement, Roles attributed the decrease in overall crime to the recent implementation of the BPD Traffic Unit, which consists of a three-officer unit focused on working accidents and traffic violations. The unit was supported by the Bartlesville City Council in the current fiscal year budget in an effort to not only reduce speeding and other traffic violations that can result in an increased number of accidents but also to allow district officers to spend more time and increase police presence in residential neighborhoods.
“Police do have a little bit of a role in preventing crimes against persons, otherwise known as violent crimes and assaults, but police presence has a very direct impact in preventing property crimes,” Roles said. “We have really been able to step that up since implementing our traffic unit and, as a result, we saw a 15.5 percent decrease last year in property crimes, which includes crimes such as burglary, larceny and stolen vehicles.”
Roles said one indicator of the unit’s success in helping to prevent neighborhood crimes is that as property crimes decreased, the number of warnings and citations issued increased by more than 50 percent last year.
“The program has been successful on all levels,” he said. “It has allowed us to maintain a higher police presence in residential areas and, hopefully, in the long run it will deter people from speeding through those neighborhoods and endangering people. If you have, say, kids playing ball and that ball goes into the street and one of them runs after it, someone going 45 mph in a 25 mph zone now has significantly less time to stop to avoid hitting that child.”
Roles said he expects the warnings and citations will drop off some next year as more people become more intentional in their driving habits.
“It’s not all about writing tickets, it’s about changing behaviors,” he said.
Roles also said in 2019 Bartlesville E-911 dispatchers handled 40,000 calls. In addition to emergency police calls and calls for assistance, that number also includes fire, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and EMS calls.
“That’s 110 calls a day that our Dispatch Center handled. They do an outstanding job,” he said.