Wednesday, April 21, 2021
62.0°F

Tremendous partnership bites into crime rate

by Lee White Cda Police Chief
| February 27, 2019 12:00 AM

photo

LOREN BENOIT/Press file Fellow Coeur d’Alene Police Department officers show their support as Officer Charles Hatley is escorted from Kootenai Health on March 2, 2018. Hatley was shot in the line of duty a year ago.

When I was in the process of being selected for police chief in 2014, I was surprised to learn that Coeur d’Alene had the highest violent crime rate and Part 1 (UCR) crime rate in the state of Idaho. For those of you who are not crime-stat nerds like me, the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) is a national standard used to categorize crime and is largely regarded as a key societal indicator of community safety. Part 1 (UCR) crime is comprised of the crimes of homicide, aggravated assault, arson, auto burglary, residential burglary, commercial burglary, rape, robbery, theft and vehicle theft.

With the implementation of directed patrols and strategic initiatives utilizing crime data we have experienced a crime drop of -44.62 percent in our city since 2014. Last year we experienced a -14.35 percent drop in Part 1 crime over 2017. In fact, crime has dropped steadily every year since 2014 and our crime rates now are lower than they were 20 years ago. Just to be clear, not only is our Part 1 crime rate (per 100,000 population) lower than it has ever been, the total number of Part 1 incidents is lower now than it was in 1997. (I would like to go back further than that, but database issues do not support a look further into the past).

From my perspective, I attribute our historic crime reduction to three things:

First, the men and women of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department take community safety seriously and do amazing work. The shift in our policing culture from simply responding to calls for service to a focus on community policing and proactive engagement with our public, combined with the outstanding character and professionalism of our members, helped reduce crime in our community.

Second, the support of the mayor and council, along with great teamwork from our partners in other city departments such as fire, streets, and administration, has helped us succeed.

Third, we have an incredibly supportive community. Without a strong community partnership, our efforts would certainly be less effective. Our public demands not only excellent police service, but also a trustworthy team of professionals they can partner with to keep our community safe.

What I see in our partnership with the community is the living and breathing embodiment of community policing principles. The everyday exercise of these principles is rarely newsworthy, but the cumulative effect is amazing. Every shift, your officers solve problems, get out of their cars and improve relationships with our residents and visitors, and protect the public through collaborative approaches to public safety.

Oftentimes law enforcement professionals only truly understand the connection they have with the community after a tragedy strikes. I vividly recall the tremendous support we felt after Sgt. Greg Moore was killed in the line of duty. We experienced a similar level of support when Officer Hatley was shot one year ago today. But our agency does not need a tragedy to fully grasp the depth of our partnership with the public. We feel it when we speak with members of our community, and it is very apparent when I review our crime rates each week.

We are all blessed to live in such a great place, and the Coeur d’Alene Police Department is lucky to have such a supportive partnership with our community.

•••

Lee White is chief of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.