September police calls set record

Published 4:31 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

Usually the number of calls the Clanton Police Department handles dips down in the fall months before picking back up around the holidays.

That wasn’t the case this last month, as September saw more calls than any month so far this year. In fact, it was the busiest month for calls since the department started keeping stats digitally in January 2010.

September 2011 saw 3,495 calls, up from 2,551 calls the previous month. That number is also considerably higher than the 2,043 calls the department handled in September 2010.

Clanton Police saw its busiest month for service calls since it started keeping records digitally in January 2010. The second highest month was November of 2010.

So far in 2011, every month has seen more calls to the police department than the same month in 2010.

Through September, CPD has handled 24,704 calls, with three months remaining this calendar year. The department handled just 26,883 calls for all of 2010.

Stilwell said it’s a similar trend all over the county — he shared numbers from Chilton County E-911 that show dispatch has handled 82,780 calls so far this year, already higher than the 78,065 calls in 2010.

“At this rate, the Clanton Police Department will handle more than 33,000 calls this year and the 911 center, who dispatches for every police, fire and rescue agency (in the county), will handle more than 110,000 calls,” Stilwell said.

Stilwell said his department is seeing more and more shoplifting, copper/scrap thefts and prescription drug crimes.

“Many are going to say shoplifting is up because of the economy as well as scrap and copper thefts, (but) people are not, for the most part, shoplifting life supporting items like food and formula,” Stilwell said. “They are taking Alabama and Auburn T-shirts, baseball caps, body jewelry, candy, CDs, nail polish, hair items and cosmetics. Most of the copper and scrap theft is going to support a drug habit, according to our interviews with suspects.”

These three types of crimes are the driving force behind increases the department is seeing in warrants and arrests, Stilwell said. Last month alone, 48 people were arrested on charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

While the number of calls trending up is concerning, Stilwell said the department has seen some signs of encouragement.

Traffic crashes are down 36 percent from 2010-2011, and CPD detectives have a case closure rate of 69 percent, up 40 percent versus the previous year after restructuring and adding staff, despite a constant stream of new cases.

“Our detectives closed or made arrests in 167 cases in the month of September, but gained 301 new cases. We will just keep, as some will say, ‘chopping wood,’” Stilwell said.