DANVILLE – Police Chief Steve Simpkins presented the Danville Town Council with the department’s 2016 Annual Report, along with crime statistics that reflected an all-time low number of property crimes last Tuesday.
Danville PD’s report shows there were 33 stolen vehicle, 68 burglary, 264 theft reports in town, totaling 365 reports of “property crime” during 2016. The number is a dramatic reduction from 2013 and 2014, when the department took 444 and 491 reports related to property crime, respectively. On Tuesday, Simpkins told the Town Council, “In 2016, we knocked it (property crime) down 26%. That is not a typo, that is a new all time low since incorporation.” Despite a large population increase since the town’s incorporation in 1984, the 2016 data says the number (not just the rate) of reported property crimes were less than any other year in town history. Simpkins thanked the “fleet of officers, volunteers, reserves, support staff, everyone else and, quite frankly, our community that trusts us and calls us when something is out of place. That partnership is very important.”
Chief Simpkins also added Danville got “pummeled” with package thefts in December, largely due the increased popularity of online marketplaces like Amazon. However, he said his department is testing a number of ways to reduce package thefts, such as placing GPS trackers inside of “bait boxes.” Simpkins also shared that his officers made a few “significant” arrests of different people believed to be responsible for over half of those package thefts.
Last summer, the Town Council approved the installation of automated license plate reader (ALPR) and other cameras around Danville. According to the 2016 report, the ALPR cameras have assisted in 13 arrests for theft-related cases, 3 recovered stolen vehicles, and 5 cases involving the recovery of stolen property since coming online.
Simpkins said Tuesday that the cameras have been very successful for allowing officers to find stolen vehicles as they travel into town. He added the cameras also allow officers to know when wanted fugitives enter town and give detectives a way to track suspects of crime. Simpkins made sure he gave most of the credit Danville Police Lieutenant Allan Shields, who was largely in charge of implementing the project.
The town saw a 12% increase in total accidents in 2015, but the increase only occurred in “property damage only” accidents, instead of “injury” accidents. Simpkins noted the number of injury accidents dropped in 2016, with a 37% decrease over the past couple of years. In 2016, the department reassigned their 3rd traffic officer to an anti-theft detail, leaving only two officers assigned to traffic enforcement.
Nonetheless, the chief shared that the town’s new traffic Sergeant, Andy Jensen, will give the accident increase a healthy look with creative ideas planned for 2017 to improve traffic safety. The chief also noted that you can’t miss Sgt. Jensen, at 6’9″, he’s one of the only individuals in the department taller than the Chief himself.
The national average of closure rate for cases is around 20%, but Danville has historically had a much higher rate: in 2016, the department recorded a 46% closure rate, more than double the national average.
On Tuesday, Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich expressed how important the department’s closure rate is, “It’s extraordinary to be able to solve a crime because it’s valued here that we try to do that. Most other agencies just won’t put in the time.” Simpkins pointed out the department’s detectives, along with a retired Secret Service agent, retired Walnut Creek Police officer and a retired Sheriff’s Lieutenant are key players in helping close investigations cases.
In 2016, the department began its “Recess with the Cops” series, a concept the Chief was introduced to by one of his student officers in a class he was teaching. On Tuesday, Simpkins shared with the council his perspective of the program’s success, “The number of kids who came up to us (at the December tree lighting ceremony) and dragged their parents over to us and said ‘Hey, I remember you, you gave me a sticker at my school and interacted with us!’ it made all the difference in the world to me, I knew we were doing the right thing. It’s been a fun program to continue.”
Danville Police have also continued their Citizen’s Academy, a program that was created by the department to build community trust years ago. Chief Simpkins said one of his favorite quotes from a student in the program was, “The media is so wrong about you guys,” demonstrating the program is positively shaping the way people perceive of law enforcement.
Calls for Service
The data reflected in the department’s report shows false alarms continue to occur often. Police responded to over 2,000 false alarms in 2016. However, police also received 23% more reports of suspicious activity, a statistic that Chief Simpkins says he appreciates. “I’m happy when we get those calls and we’re given the opportunity to look. We never know when those small calls can be a piece to a larger puzzle somewhere else,” Simpkins told the council.
While Danville has always had a low number of violent crimes, this year’s report along with past year’s show there was a 50% decrease in violent crime from 2011 to 2016. There were also no reports of armed robberies in Danville last year.
Simpkins ended his presentation to the Danville Town Council Tuesday by emphasizing how important the officers, volunteers and other support staff are to the success of his department, “The results I’m able to come brag about in this document wouldn’t be possible without all people who work there. They’re wonderful team of people and I’m proud to be the one that gets to represent their work to you,” Simpkins said.
You can read the Danville Police Department’s full 2016 report on their website here.