These past 12 months have been busy ones for the Blaine police department. We end the year proud of what was accomplished and mindful of the challenges ahead.
We have had much to be thankful for this year. One fine example is our volunteer cadre of two dozen auxiliary communication service personnel.
In 2010 they gave more than 4,000 hours of their time to the city with providing important services. Members staffed and maintained our emergency operations radio room and command van.
They performed support services at many events including our July 4th and Christmas celebrations. ACS saved taxpayers several thousands of dollars by decommissioning patrol cars, installing equipment, building repeater sites, maintaining electronics and supporting police functions.
We cannot thank these dedicated men and women enough for their work.
Blaine’s reserve police officers provided over 1,200 hours of volunteer service this year, doing patrol and enforcement to help ensure community safety.
Reserve members complete the same rigorous selection process as full time staff and are certified commissioned police officers when on duty. Just one example of the work they perform is prisoner transport.
Driving an arrestee to jail can take the only officer on duty away from the city for two hours or more if a reserve officer is not available. Transports, patrol, traffic enforcement, criminal investigation and security at community events are a few of the many functions that we could not perform as well without reserve officers.
Crime statistics are notoriously variable. It is often not appropriate to claim victory when numbers in a category drop or to raise alarm when they increase from one year to the next.
That said, here are some numbers we are watching. In 2010, through December 15, we handled 4,382 incidents of all types, compared with 4,112 in 2009. Among these events, there were 30 assaults reported this year compared to 25 in 2009.
Thirteen children in Blaine reported suffering abuse or molestation this year compared to six victimized in 2009. Three of the four victims of rape in 2010 were children.
In 2009 there were two threatened or completed suicides: this year there have been nine so far. Domestic violence investigations rose from 76 in 2009 to 97 this year, with almost all of that increase in verbal disputes.
While burglaries (36) and thefts (120) remained steady, malicious mischief and vandalism rose from 66 events in 2009 to 77 in 2010.
Complaints about traffic problems rose from 56 in 2009 to 84 in 2010, while the number of collisions dropped from 77 to 71. For the first time in three years there were no collision fatalities.
Drug crimes have remained steady at about 56 in each of the past two years. However, Blaine police joined other cities and counties in northwest Washington in seeing a disturbing trend toward increased heroin use, especially by younger people.
The men and women of the Blaine police department will continue working hard in 2011 to combat crime and improve citizen safety.
We will be helped by Dexter, our new patrol canine. Dex and his handler are cross-trained and certified for both patrol and drug interdiction.
We expanded our child abuse investigation and sex offender tracking programs in 2010.
We are also building on our excellent relationship with Blaine’s award winning school district.
Engaged parents and a strong local school system remain our strongest allies in protecting our youth.
We are conducting training to ensure we can communicate and work effectively with agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, North Whatcom Fire and other county, state and federal agencies.
The members of these agencies help protect the community. Our most important partnerships continue to be the ones we have with each of our residents, businesses and visitors.
There are significant challenges and opportunities we face together, and much to be done in the coming months.