The Mitchell Police Division reported more service calls, warning tickets and traffic stops in 2019 than in the previous year.
In 2019, Mitchell's dispatch center recorded a combined total of 19,231 calls for service in Mitchell and six surrounding counties. That was 1,907 calls more than were recorded in 2018, an increase of about 11 percent. Additionally, 2,892 case reports were written in 2019, down slightly from the 2,993 written the previous year.
Assistant Police Chief Mike Koster told The Daily Republic on Thursday that while 2019 saw more service calls — which accounts for the entire mass of calls received by Mitchell dispatchers, from complaints about barking dogs to a report of a crash or suspected criminal activity — the slight decrease in the number of incidents that needed to be reported, paired with staffing increases, freed up more time for officers to focus on traffic issues, leading to the increase in the number of tickets written.
"Those are the calls that officers responded to that they had to generate a case report to followup on something or investigate something," Koster said of the number of case reports written. "In '18, we had a higher number of case reports generated from those calls, but in '19, we received more calls."
In the six counties in which calls are routed to the Mitchell dispatch center and excluding calls within the city, more calls were made in 2019 both in the year as a whole and in all 12 months individually. The same was true for the entire year and for 10 months in the city limits.
The department issued nearly 80 percent more warning tickets in 2019 than in 2018, as well as slightly more parking tickets — 1,055, up from 985. Inversely, more criminal cases were filed in Davison County, where the majority of offenses are concentrated in Mitchell, in 2018 than in 2019.
"The cases written were down, freeing up a little more time, and possibly that's what created more activity on traffic issues," Koster said. "... They're out trying to send a message to the public on some of these things in speeding and traffic types of situations. If it doesn't warrant a citation with a financial consequence to it, their biggest thing that they want to do is educate the public and keep people safe. If they can accomplish that goal with a warning ticket, that's what they happen to do in those cases."
In recent years, Koster said, the Mitchell Police Division has seen the same trends in crime that are prevalent nationwide, including increases in drug-related crime and identity theft schemes.
Not all case reports written are for criminal offenses. Instances of truancy, abuse or neglect, vandalism, civil matters, shoplifting and more could also lead to a report if officers feel there will need to be some followup.
"There's no two calls that are going to be the same, and the resolutions can be different depending on each situation," Koster said.