OSWEGO, NY â€“ Sometimes, itâ€™s hard to capture good police work in statistics.
The statistics released by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services recently indicate the Oswego City Police Department is doing a good job.
Countywide there was an increase in property crimes and a decrease in violent crimes.
Among all county police agencies, violent crime dropped 4% while property crimes rose 8% for an overall increase of 7%.
Oswegoâ€™s city police department was the only large police agency to record a drop in both violent and property crimes in 2009. There, both types of crimes had spiked the year before.
The annual report is compiled by the state from data delivered by all of the police agencies in the state.
â€œFirst and foremost, it is very difficult to draw any conclusions from just the statistics alone,â€ said OPD Captain Tory DeCaire. â€œIt is difficult to use statistics to draw a conclusion. There are many possible factors that can contribute to a change in crime rates.â€
One such factor is the departmentâ€™s Quality of Life Patrols being out there and being visible.
Couple that with the general community policing attitude of the department and the neighborhood watch program and thereâ€™s a good chance crime will decline, he noted.
â€œIâ€™m sure the deployment of our Quality of Life Patrols along with the general community policing mind set of the department and the diligent work of our officers has certainly played a part in crime reduction,â€ he said. â€œThere are a lot of other factors that play into all of this. Our efforts certainly are probably one of the big reasons why crime has gone down, especially in certain areas.â€
â€œA lot of things that we do just arenâ€™t going to be captured by statistics; such as just being out there with the public. How do you put that down on paper, the interaction of an officer and the community? Itâ€™s difficult to define that as a statistic,â€ continued.
Anything that police can do to be more visible, getting the partnership of the community, is an excellent resource, he said.
Initiatives like the recent Second Ward neighborhood meeting are a step in the right direction, he added.
Oswegoâ€™s index crime went down slightly. It was 597 in 2008; itâ€™s down to 554 in 2009.
â€œSo if you go across the board and look at things, violent crime is down; though some people would say it isnâ€™t a significant number,â€ DeCaire said. â€œItâ€™s like I said, itâ€™s very difficult to judge from just looking at statistics. The job before us right now is to take a closer look; take the statistics, analyze them to determine what we are doing that is good and efficient and repeat that further. We want to capitalize on what has been most successful.â€
How does the department know if it is doing well?
â€œItâ€™s very subjective. It really depends on the goal of your specific detail. Letâ€™s say weâ€™re working on the Bridge Street Run, our obvious goal is to make sure everybody gets thorough it safely,â€ the captain said.
The recently released crime report doesnâ€™t always capture the full picture of what the department is doing, he noted.
â€œYou have to take into account the community oriented type stuff, like quality of life issues, the disorderly conducts, which plays a large part in what we decide to do each day to make the quality of life better in Oswego,â€ he explained.
It used to be the community got to know the police officers walking the beat.
Times have changed, especially with the advent of 9-1-1. People now call the emergency number instead of alerting their neighborhood police officers directly.
â€œThe times have certainly changed. Thereâ€™s no doubt about that point; I donâ€™t think anyone would argue that,â€ he said.
Technology plays a much larger role in the department today than even just a few years ago.
â€œWe receive a lot of tips via our crime watch email. It is a very positive thing. We enjoy a good relationship with the neighborhood watch group and again itâ€™s the constant police and community interaction that makes a difference,â€ DeCaire noted.
He said he can see the technology aspect expanding even more, perhaps some day including things such as Facebook and Twitter.
â€œWe want to do everything we can to be out there and be accessible to the public,â€ he said. â€œWe are looking into other things as well. Itâ€™s just a matter of what is right for our community?â€
The department has seen an influx in recent years of new, younger officers.
â€œThatâ€™s a good thing. You get officers right out of the academy with great training and fresh ideas. But on the down side, you are losing some really experienced officers,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s very much a balancing act. We have a pretty good mix right now in the department.â€
Oswego Police can be reached by several different methods:
Call (315) 342-8120 to speak with an officer
Call (315) 342-8131 where you may give information anonymously if you wish
Or email [email protected]