A record number of overall arrests and crackdown on drunk driving highlight the for 2011.
Mark Twain may have considered statistics to be one of the "three types of lies" but in this case, the numbers paint a clear picture of and of the challenges facing Tewksbury as a community.
Tewksbury Police made 693 arrests in 2011, the most in department history. That number is up from 623 in 2010 and up roughly 60 percent from 2006, when the department made 441 arrests.
Many of those arrests were the result of property related crimes. While thefts from vehicles dropped significantly (119 from 194), the number of thefts from buildings jumped from 85 to 121 and burglaries jumped from 143 to 158. By comparison, police reported just 76 burglaries in 2006.
(Complete 2011 Tewksbury Police Statistics can be found on the attached PDF.)
"Epidemic level drug dependency, alcohol abuse, employment shortages, and all of their residual problems associated with a failing economy are significantly impacting this Community and driving the need for police services off the charts," said Sheehan. "The lion’s share of the department’s resources is being expended on the prevention, response, and investigation of property crimes. This appears to be a common theme (problem) amongst all of the local communities."
The department's prevention efforts are clear to see. Officers conducted 19,051 building checks in 2011. That's up from 11,691 in 2010. Building checks focus on businesses and town-owned buildings. But neighborhood patrols have also increased.
"My Officers have embraced a “doing more with less attitude” in this tough economic time and are responsible for a significant increase in proactive building and area checks," said Sheehan. "Officers are getting out into the neighborhoods and to the public buildings and businesses as much as the call volume will allow and making every effort to reduce property crime and the fear associated with it."
Traffic citations are down for the second straight year, from 4,367 in 2010 to 3,311 in 2011. But that doesn't mean the department is neglecting traffic safety. Officers made a whopping 78 drunk driving arrests in 2011, another record, by far, for the department. That number is up from 40 in 2011.
"Unfortunately, the steady increase in call volume we have been experiencing has required the dedication of additional resources resulting in heftier case loads and less time to perform other important proactive measures such as traffic enforcement and drug enforcement," said Sheehan. "Grants received from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) for Click It or Ticket enforcement, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement, have assisted with making up for some of the lost time and with getting additional resources into these much needed proactive policing areas."
Sheehan said he is proud of the work his officers have been doing and feels very good about the direction the department is headed.
"I am very proud of the fact that my Officers are responsible for nearly 700 arrests and over 3300 citations in 2011 while dealing with a 5 percent call volume increase," he said. "These numbers are a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the men and women I am very fortunate to lead. I would be remiss if I did not mention how supportive the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen have been during this tough economic downturn and during my two year tenure as Chief of Police."
Sheehan also cited the cooperation of the media and the public with helping the department to solve numerous crimes in 2011.
"I would like to thank you, the Patch, and our other local media sources for the support you have provided with getting our press releases and crime prevention messages out there to our population," said Sheehan. "Many crimes have been solved and arrests made because we have an informed public."