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Police chief recaps 2007

By Staff | Apr 2, 2008

The year 2007 was a bumpy, turbulent ride for the Estherville Police Department but the force persevered to stay on the straight and narrow course.

Police Chief Eric Milburn presented his department’s 2007 annual report to members of Estherville City Council recently.

Information focused on the officers first. The staff only had a full complement of officers for six weeks since August 2006.

“In March and September of 2007, we conducted our two Law Enforcement Employment Coop tests. Those tests proceeded just like we hoped, giving us more applicants to select from, with approximately one-third the costs.”

The department hired Brett Lewis and Matt Hellickson. In July, the force said farewell to 16-year veteran Sonja Fagre who is the current law enforcement instructor at Iowa Lakes Community College.

Milburn said, “We had not filled that position when we were notified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy that they intended to change the way they enforced certain administrative rules, and required us to place another as a community service office, a non-sworn position, effectively removing him from the shift schedule.”

Additionally, an officer had two instances of serious medical situations. “We were without his services for approximately two and one-half months,” the chief said.

In another related issue, the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy recently adopted new rules regarding certification for reserves.

“They nullified all the current certifications, and provided for new certification training requirements which must be completed within a five-year time period for reserves to get their certification back.”

Milburn noted the academy now requires new certification for reserve instructors. “The officers who have been instructing reserves for the last 20 years, now can no longer train reserves until they are approved by the academy board.”

The chief is not optimistic about the program. “The new requirements are scaled down versions of the academy program for officers. To ask volunteers to begin again has caused resignations, and has people reluctant to apply. The total ramifications of this new certification process are yet to be seen.”

The police department was active in DARE, the Iowa Great Lakes Drug Task Force, and the High Risk Entry and Arrest Team. “The tactical team was called out 10 times in 2007, with two en route cancellations. Proper training and education has again shown its worth, as no defendants or officers were injured during the eight remaining call-outs,” Milburn said.

During the 12 months, the force and its organizations received several grants. “We continue to obtain the Special Traffic Enforcement Program grant. We also received funding for additional preliminary breath test units through STEP.”

The tactical team was awarded $150,000 in grant monies for tactical body armor, outfitting team members with the best tactical armor available.

The chief noted, “We are individually protected as well as tactical officers in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago.”

An equipment grant made the purchase of a handheld thermal imager possible. The tool can read temperature variances and can help officers locate criminals, lost persons, track individuals or find items that have been thrown or lost within certain periods of time.

The entire department acknowledged appreciation for the successful K-9 funding drive.

In other matters, the police department was the beneficiary of three desks being discarded by Northstar Bank and Agency. Old desks were replaced. “We appreciate their donation immensely.”

Acknowledging council’s support, he said the department replaced computer hardware and software. The system is nearly paperless.

“Additionally we finished the audio and video recording equipment purchases for our offices. With today’s court decisions, if interviews and statements are not electronically recorded, courts have stated evidence will be suppressed (State v. Hajtic). My personal opinion is that our burden of proof gets higher, as the degree of personal responsibility gets lower.”

Looking at statistical information, he noted low numbers in regard to residential and business burglaries, hit and run reports, thefts and complaints of crime. “The good high numbers are alcohol arrests, parking citations and calls for service.”

The number of calls for services was the most since Milburn has been involved in keeping the records. “They were answered by the fewest officers we’ve ever had working during a one-year time period. I am proud of the way our officers have stepped up during this difficult year, and give them the credit for their work.”

Calls for service in 2007 included:

n Accidents, 170.

n Alcohol, 168.

n Assault, 41.

n Burglary, business, 3.

n Burglary, residential, 28.

n Criminal mischief, 82.

n Drug arrests, 29.

n Hit and run, 23.

n Vehicle thefts, 7.

n Thefts, 92.

n Tobacco arrests, 12.

n Traffic citations, 577.

n Parking citations, 304.

n Warning citations, 105.

n Juvenile arrests, 49.

n Adult arrests, 490.

n Total calls for service 3,364.

n Complaint of crime, 161.