Police calls increase by nearly 10 percent

Published 2:08 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department has seen a dramatic increase in calls from 2015.

According to Chief Tim Kozal, calls have increased by nearly 10 percent. Calls in 2015 increased by 356.

At the same time, the department’s reports on incidents have increased by nearly 50 percent with 460 written. Tickets issued and traffic accidents were both down last year.

“Usually you can think about calls for service and reports as being ticket driven,” Kozal said. “Or reports are driven because of accidents. But when our accidents have gone down by 200, those calls are for something else.”

Because his officers are responding to other calls, they are not hitting the usual “hot spots” for traffic issues and doing the usual traffic enforcement.

“Our man hours on the road were down,” Kozal said. “We had about 540 hours less than we had the year before. The question can be raised as to why. It is because when you have reduction in staff due to injuries and sickness you do not have the man hours for the road.”

Another reason for the decline in man-hours on the road is that the investigations the department has to do takes up time.

“They are pretty complex,” he said. “They take time. They take search warrants that take time analyzing the records that take follow-up interviews. And with one officer on duty it takes away from being proactive out there and hopefully preventing other types of crimes.”

The department’s closure rate on cases is high and Kozal feels that it is indicative of the job they are doing.

“We are putting our best foot forward,” he said. “We have written so many search warrants just to get the documentation to get the closure on them. Since I have been here my big thing was case closure. We are doing it.”

In January, the department had 139 more calls for service than the previous year.

“So this trend that we are seeing is not just a flash in the pan as far as I can see,” Kozal said. “And again, it is not ticket driven or crash driven. We have our little spikes, but those are just small spikes where it was one or two days. All of the calls have been going up. Your civil matters, your issues with children and personal protection orders. All of our calls have gone up.”

Part of the increase may come from the fact that the residents of Edwardsburg are being more proactive in contacting the department and letters the officers deal with situations instead of trying to handle them on their own.

“We have always tried to stress that please approach us and letting us try to assist you before you do it yourself or take to social media to try to solve things,” Kozal said. “And they do. I think here heard ‘hey, go and talk to the officers and go and talk to chief Kozal.’ And they do. They come here and talk to us and get guidance.”

Kozal encourages village residents to continue to be vigilant in looking out for potential criminal activity and reporting it to his department.

You can reach the Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department at (269) 663-9844 or email it at Otepd@comcast.net. Residents can also check out the department’s Facebook page.