By LINDA M. LINONIS
Acting Police Chief Lou Carsone describes the city as a “relatively safe community” but with a cautionary note that “it is not the same community as 40 years ago.”
“In general, you can walk the streets [here] after dark and not be afraid,” Carsone said. But, he said, people once left their houses unlocked, and that’s not a good practice in today’s world.
“Everything changes,” he said.
Carsone said he urges residents if they “see something, say something.” He’d rather an officer check out something that turns out to be nothing than not get a call about a situation that is a problem or potential crime.
Carsone said neighborhoods have changed somewhat because people move in and out. “Know your neighbors,” he said. Residents are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood, he said.
The acting chief said elderly residents haven’t been immune to scams. He cautioned older residents and others to remember “if it sounds like too good a deal, it is.” He also urged family members to check on older members who live alone and talk to them openly about such scams.
The force has 14 full-time and seven part-time officers and four full-time and four part-time dispatchers. Sgt. James R. Taafe is the detective on the force; he handles all crimes that are felonies and some select misdemeanors. The city has about 9,000 residents. More traffic and strangers come into the north end of the city because of its proximity to U.S. Route 62, state Route 7 and Interstate 80.
In 2009, there were six sex-crimes and in 2010, seven. “This is anything from gross sexual imposition to rape,” Taafe said. Some of these crimes involved children who were victims of an inappropriate encounter with a family or household member or acquaintance.
Threats have gone from 88 in 2009 to 134 in 2010. “In a general sense, it’s easier to do threats,” Taafe said, citing cell phones and texting. “It’s long range and requires less courage than a physical confrontation.”
As for drug offenses, which went from 64 in 2009 to 88 in 2010, Taafe said most arrests involved marijuana possession and trafficking.