Editor's Note: In this weekly column, I am going to write about what I've learned each week at the academy. Some of the topics that will be covered in this column and at the Citizen's Academy is identity theft, homicide investigation, self defense, and there will also be ridealongs with officers, a taser demo and an opportunity to participate in a service weapons shoot. The Citizen's Academy is held every Thursday at the Eagan Police Department from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
The Eagan Police Department has been offering the Citizen's Academy to good-standing people in the community for 16 years.
The academy fills up quick, and there are only 28 slots, so citizens had to hurry to apply and have their background check done. I, fortunately, was one of the 28 that was selected to be a part of this year's academy.
This past Thursday, we received a folder full of information on the police department, a Citizen's Academy schedule and waivers to sign. The class is made up of a wide range of people from age 18 to senior citizens. The reasons why people wanted to join ranged from spouse's who had graduated from the academy in the past recommending it to their significant other to others just wanting to learn more about the police department and get a hands-on experience.
Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald covered lots of information on where the City of Eagan stands with violent crimes, nonviolent crimes and some of the department's initiatives.
According to McDonald, the police department has 1.08 police officer(s) per 1,000 of the city's population. Currently, there are 69 sworn officers and, according to the city, the population is about 66,000. The Eagan Police Department is the 22nd largest police department (with sworn staff) in Minnesota. There are 16 nonsworn crime prevention staff.
The department's 2011 operating budget is $11,101,000, which is 40 percent of the city's budget. The police department is the largest department in the city.
McDonald was quick to point out that although many people suspect that the money gathered from tickets goes to the police department, it actually goes to the city's general fund. The city estimates it will receive $302,500 from tickets in 2011, which is only 1.1 percent of general fund budget. McDonald's point: It's not a huge moneymaker.
McDonald also went over the history of the department, including that a squad car used to cost just under $3,000 in the department's early years. It now costs about $47,000 for a brand new squad car.
Here are some statistics:
In 2010 there were...
- 50,017 calls for service, which averages to 137/day
- 1,497 traffic crashes, which averages to four/day
- 6,693 citations issued, which averages to 18/day
- 253 DWIs, which averages to less than one a day
Also, violent crimes (Part 1 Crimes) increased this past year by 1.5 percent, which was mostly due to burglary, larceny (theft) and arson. Murder was up 100 percent, but only because of a murder-suicide that took place in August 2010. In 2009, there was only one homicide.
According to McDonald, "We usually don't have murders...we average about one a year."
He also said that this past year was a record low for the number of crimes that took place in Eagan.
Looking to the future, McDonald believes these issues may impact the department:
- Homeland Security Demands
- Peak of 18-24-year-old population, which is committing the most crimes in the city
- Increase of senior citizen population, with implications for police service
- The city's transition from a rapidly growing community to a nearly fully-developed city
- Economy (home/business foreclosures and mental health issues...which leads to stress)
Last but not least, I found it extremely interesting that the police department has been dealing with a large increase in mental health-related calls. In 2007, the department had 794 calls and in 2010, they had 1,017 calls (that is a 28 percent increase!)
McDonald also discussed an initiative the department has been working on since 2006, called the Geo-Policing Initiative. Basically, Eagan is broken into five areas. There are two patrol sergeants responsible for each "beat" or area. Then, certain officers are responsible for those areas as well. They pay attention to crime trends and issues affecting those specific beats. The initiative has proven to be helpful to the department and they feel they are 'ahead of the times' by implementing it.
Internet safety and identity theft will be the topics of next Saturday's column. Stay tuned...