Pulaski Police Department
The Pulaski Police Department was the fifty-eighth law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). A law enforcement agency being awarded accredited status, demonstrates that the organization is in compliance with professional standards of operation as promulgated by the Commission. The department received its first reaccreditation on December 2, 2010.
The Year of the Tornado
2011 will be remembered by the citizens of our community as the “year of the tornado.” Town citizens had three minutes warning before an EF-2 tornado touched down in the Mount Olivet area and it cut a 1.95 mile path of destruction through the southern and southwest sections of town. Within twenty-five minutes, members of the Command Staff of the police department had responded and established a Command Post, ensured emergency communications were operating, and had accounted for all on-duty personnel. The agency’s Emergency Operations Plan was initiated to obtain additional police and communications personnel. In addition, a request for mutual aid assistance from neighboring jurisdictions was broadcast. Police personnel were assigned to secure the roadways surrounding the impacted area with the assistance of the Virginia State Police. Roadblocks and checkpoints were erected at these street intersections to allow only residents and essential personnel into the affected area.
Police department personnel organized primary and secondary search and rescue teams to look for victims of the storm and to identify possible dangerous damage to various utilities such as natural gas pipes and downed electrical lines. Every structure in that area was searched for victims or dangerous situations within six hours after the initial storm had passed. Personnel encountered only eight citizens with minor injuries and incredibly no fatalities.
The police department initiated the process to establish a curfew within the impacted area between the hours of 8:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M. While the security of the established street perimeter was delegated to the Virginia State Police, agency personnel maintained motorized and foot patrols within the damaged area to ensure public order, prevent looting, and to identify public safety considerations. These officers also distributed informational flyers to citizens detailing the curfew regulations, emergency shelter information, food and water purification notices, and general safety issues. The establishment of the mandatory curfew was also broadcast to citizens by officers utilizing their vehicular public address systems.
As dawn broke on April 9th, additional personnel arrived to relieve the initial responders from their assignments. By that time, agency members had been working for approximately ten hours in rain soaked uniforms and many had been awake for twenty-four hours. Even in wet and mud splattered clothing, many of these officers had to be told to go home. They knew from their first hand experiences the difficulties that our citizens were encountering and desired to continue to perform their duties. No one complained about their assignments or what was asked of them. Department personnel incurred 380.25 hours of overtime the first three days following the storm.
The following law enforcement agencies assisted our community during this disaster.
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office
Virginia State Police
Dublin Police Department
Radford Department of Police
Virginia Parks & Conservation Agency
Christiansburg Police Department
Summary of Criminal Offenses and Calls for Service Activity
The agency investigated 1,175 Group A (serious felony, i.e. burglary, arson, assault, drugs, homicide, etc.) offenses during the past year. This figure represents an increase of reported criminal acts of 88 offenses or 8.1% when compared to calendar year 2010. Personnel solved 531 of these crimes resulting in a clearance rate of 45.2%.
The Department responded to 17,026 Calls for Service in 2011 with an overall average response time of 1.99 minutes per call. Response time represents the elapsed time from when the Communications Center initially receives the complaint, their notification of the assigned patrol officer(s), and the amount of time required for the first officer to arrive at the location of the incident. The average time period that officers devoted to each call was 20.60 minutes.
SUMMARY OF DIVISION ACTIVITIES
UNIFORM PATROL DIVISION
A sample and the number of some of the types of incidents that the Uniform Patrol Division responded to last year included: 183 domestic disturbances, 345 welfare checks on citizens, 430 business escorts, 228 bank/burglar alarms, 3 robberies, 484 larceny complaints, 275 fights, 161 threats, 11 malicious wounding, 193 property damage/vandalism complaints, 639 motorists assisted, 27 shots fired calls, 1,326 suspicious persons/vehicles, and 68 burglaries. Officers also served 138 Emergency Custody and Temporary Detention Orders for mental illness and made numerous transports to mental illness facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Patrol officers issued 1,312 traffic summonses and 848 warning tickets. In addition, officers served 508 arrest warrants and 20 criminal summonses. There were two incidents last year where officers were assaulted while discharging their duties.
In 2011, the Patrol Division responded to a total 258 motor vehicle accidents. Eighty-three of these traffic crashes were reportable to the Division of Motor Vehicles with 31 of these accidents involving personal injuries. Driver actions that contributed to reportable traffic accidents were identified as:
Did not have right of way 11 (13.26%)
Following too closely 12 (14.46%)
Failure to maintain proper control 21 (25.30%)
Disregard Stop or Yield sign 4 (4.82%)
Driver Distraction 4 (4.82%)
No improper action 4 (4.82%)
Disregard traffic signal 3 (3.62%)
Avoiding Animal 2 (2.41%)
Hit & Run 3 (3.62%)
Improper turn from wrong lane 2 (2.41%)
Wrong side of road-not overtaking 3 (3.62%)
Improper or unsafe lane change 1 (1.21%)
Avoiding other vehicle 3 (3.62%)
Other 8 (9.64%)
In addition, seven of the reportable crashes above involved a driver that was determined to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION
In the year 2011, Detectives and Patrol Officers cleared 492 cases by arrest. One Hundred-four cases were solved by a means other than arresting the perpetrator. They also assisted other communities with crimes within their jurisdictions that resulted in cases being solved. During these investigations, detectives interviewed 3,386 people and spent 131 hours in court.
Examples of the types of investigations conducted and the number of those incidents are listed below:
- 127 Grand Larcenies
- 103 Assaults
- 87 Fraud & Forgeries
- 65 Burglaries
- 49 Shopliftings
- 23 Death Investigations
- 20 Sexual Assaults
- 9 Kidnapping/Abductions
- 7 Larceny of Vehicles
- 6 Rapes
- 3 Robberies
- 2 Arsons
SUPPORT SERVICES DIVISION
Emergency communications personnel are tasked with being the emergency E-911 and informational point of contact for the members of our community and other professional agencies. Police dispatchers constitute a vital link to the sworn personnel of the Police Department as well. This office is staffed 24 hours a day. There are only six full time employees that are allocated to handle the volume of telephone calls from the public and the emergency radio communications of our agency's police officers. Dispatchers answered a total of approximately 51,982 telephone calls last year including 4,768 E-911 emergency calls.
The Records Manager is responsible for computer entry and the filing of the majority of reports and other documents that are generated by agency activities. During the past year, 1,716 reports were processed, 2,098 citations of various types entered into the computer database, and 359 parking tickets received. This unit also generates various reports and information that is required for agency planning, field services operations, accreditation compliance, and crime analysis.
CRIME PREVENTION UNIT
Goal of Crime Prevention is to enhance public awareness to deter crime, provide services and education, and to maintain a partnership with the community and its citizens.
Project Lifesaver is a program to assist people with certain mental disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s or Autism, who may be prone to wandering. The client is provided with a tracking device, usually placed on their wrist or ankle. The Police Department has equipment that searches for the signal from the device on the client which assists in locating the wandering person. Officer Jennings currently has two clients using the program. Each month, she visits with her clients and their caretakers, inquiring about behavioral changes, performs equipment maintenance and ensures their equipment is working properly. She also maintains the inventory of equipment and at the Police Department.
Car Seat Installations:
In 2010, Officer Jennings was certified as a Car Seat Technician by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Throughout 2011, car seat checks and demonstrations were conducted by Officer Jennings. Citizens continue to request assistance from Officer Jennings on the installations and make numerous inquiries about the laws on the subject.
The Crime Line is a phone number citizens can call and leave anonymous tips about crime or other information. Officer Jennings has received several tips on the Crime Line, such as speeding, suspected drug houses, and the location of wanted subjects. When the information is received, she forwards it to the appropriate division using the appropriate forms. This information is very important for remaining informed about neighborhood issues and enforcement options. In addition, the department’s website offers an anonymous tip line. Officer Jennings received information on a suicidal juvenile from this informational portal and was able to intervene in this individual’s personal crisis.
Officer Jennings has conducted community presentations, including domestic violence, teen violence, dangers of drugs and alcohol in youth and adults, basic safety information for pre-schools, Internet safety, bullying, and holiday safety. These topics were presented to many different organizations, including boy scouts, girl scouts, medical personnel, church groups, pre-school, afterschool programs, Beans and Rice, and the Senior Center. The presentations appeared to be very valuable to each participant as the attendees actively participated in group discussions, activities, and asked questions.
Pulaski Community Partner’s Coalition:
Officer Jennings is a very active board member for the Pulaski Community Partner’s Coalition. PCPC is a coalition whose mission is to target substance abuse in the youth community and promote family relationships. She has attended several events with PCPC, including the transitional (rising 6th grader) pool parties, Prescription Take Back events twice a year, workshops, and other youth events and programs. Officer Jennings is on several planning committees with PCPC, including the Graduation Celebration, Teen Court, and the Youth Training Center.
Each quarter, Officer Jennings authors and distributes a Business Watch newsletter called the “Pulaski Pulse.” Included in this newsletter are current crime trends and other safety tips. Officer Jennings also offers business physical security assessments to anyone interested.
Officer Jennings maintains and regularly posts public safety information, event photos, updates about the department, marketing of Crime Prevention Events, public service announcements, crime trends, upcoming events, holiday and seasonal safety messages targeting awareness on various topics such as D.U.I., Click it or Ticket, and child passenger safety. The Department social media effort can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
Officer Jennings has two Neighborhood Watch groups that meet monthly and are very active. The residents of these two neighborhoods are very passionate about being informed, are very dedicated to cleaning up their communities, and creating a peaceful, happy environment for them to live. Lesson plans are created for each of these meetings. Information or complaints of suspicious activity or other issues are received from the residents. Officer Jennings provides training for them to work together regarding how to detect and report crimes. She takes the information received and distributes it to the appropriate division for action. In warmer weather, the residents like to have pot-luck lunches, recipe exchanges, and cook outs.
Crime Prevention Certified Community:
Officer Jennings’s priority project involves the town becoming certified as a Crime Prevention Community. The main goal of this program is to publicly recognize and certify localities that have implemented a defined set of community safety strategies as part of the local community safety and crime prevention effort. DCJS (Department of Criminal Justice Services) requires twelve core elements for certification, and seven out of twenty-two optional safety elements. Core elements include the implementation of a community safety coalition, a certified Crime Prevention Specialist, neighborhood watch programs, community policing initiatives, organized distribution of community safety information, designated committee trained to conduct community security and safety assessments of at-risk neighborhoods and businesses, crime analysis capability, a comprehensive school safety audit process by trained members of a local school safety team, business outreach, victim/witness services, a delinquency prevention program, and the department must be either accredited or seeking accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. The agency has initiated many of these services and has established the required history documenting it. Optional safety elements required before being designated as a Crime Prevention Community include DARE, McGruff, TRIAD, National Night Out, Crime Stoppers, a Crime Prevention Newsletter, a School Resource Officer, or a Domestic Violence response program.
The documentation to establish proofs that Pulaski may become a Certified Crime Prevention Community is similar to the VLEPSC accreditation process. First, the enrollment phase involves securing the program manual, developing a statement of intent and a sample resolution, appointing a certification coordinator, and submitting the preliminary documents to DCJS. The formal application package is completed and officials with DCJS visited for an orientation session. Next, DCJS is provided with a written summary of each of the core and optional elements including a detailed description of its history, program accomplishments, goals and objectives, an evaluation of each program, and any media coverage. The process requires that a subsequent evaluation be completed to identify potential shortcomings in any of the identified programs or to outline proposed strategies to rectify these issues. Once all of these measures have been established, DCJS will review and arrange for an on-site verification of all documented programs. If, approved by DCJS, the assessment will be reviewed by the Criminal Justice Services Board for confirmation.
The certification as a Crime Prevention Community is valid for a term of three years and is subject to annual verification, (more on-site visits), and a reassessment process. Certification as a Crime Prevention Community would be an extremely significant accomplishment for the department and the town. This designation is public recognition that Pulaski is a desirable and safe place to live and work.
National Night Out
The National Night Out crime awareness and safety event is scheduled the second Tuesday of each August. In 2011, it was held at Jackson Park. The participants received free dinner, prizes, and played family games with McGruff the Crime Dog, and other officers from the Department. The citizens also enjoyed free entertainment, including balloon animals and music. In addition, other organizations attended this event as well allowing them a chance to distribute information about their organizations.
Officer Jennings is a member of the Pulaski County Coordinating Council, which meets monthly. This group’s mission involves issues of domestic violence, abused children, and other women’s issues. Officer Jennings provides presentations at these meetings and receives training from other associates.
Officer Jennings participates in the Click It or Ticket, Buckle-Up Now, National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness, Drive Smart Virginia, MADD, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, Bicycle and Pedestrian Awareness, Distracted Driving Awareness, and the Smart Safe and Sober campaigns. Officer Jennings writes public service announcements and distributes them to newspapers, social media sites, television, and the local radio stations. Officer Jennings also distributes literature and topical displays to area businesses and organizations.
Officer Jennings writes and conducts community and Neighborhood Watch surveys. She collects and analyzes the information for planning, enforcement, and community policing efforts.
Officer Jennings is capable of utilizing the Reverse 9-1-1 process which allows the agency to broadcast urgent, critical, messages to desired areas with important or emergency information.
Officer Jennings participates in community events, including carnivals, health fairs, car shows, job fairs, and more.
Officer Jennings is planning to host a Citizen’s Police Academy this fall. The course will include hands on training and activities with the different divisions and units within the Department.
Officer Jennings is the agency’s Public Information Officer and authors most of the public service announcements for the Department and distributes them properly to her many media contacts.
Crime Prevention works closely with the Investigations division in analyzing crime data, pin-pointing areas in the town with specific crime trends. Officer Jennings uses that information to send information via Reverse 9-1-1, newspapers, extra patrol requests, and even traveling door to door to distribute flyers and speak with residents about how to prevent themselves and property from being victimized.
Officer Jennings is exploring and researching TRIAD, and making contacts to reinitiate that program.
During the 2011 calendar year, the Department investigated seven complaints against agency personnel. The disposition of those complaints is as follows:
- Exonerated – Officer’s actions justified - 3 (42.86%)
- Not Sustained – Insufficient Evidence to prove or disprove complaint - 1 (14.29%)
- Sustained – Allegations supported by sufficient evidence - 0 (00.0%)
- Unfounded – Allegations determined to be false - 3 (42.86%)
- Total 7
Goals and Objectives for 2011
1. Review General Orders Manual and update as required.
Status: Completed for the year
2. Review and restructure agency Organizational Chart.
3. Create new agency Vision Statement.
Status: Not Completed
4. Formulate a progressive training model for all employees.
Status: Concept Completed
5. Replace film camera system for crime scene photography with digital equipment.
6. Establish four neighborhood watch groups.
Status: Established two groups
7. Reduce the incidences of traffic accidents involving alcohol/drugs fifty percent by concentrated selective enforcement activities and public education initiatives.
Status: Not Accomplished
8. Research funding opportunities for in-car computer reporting system.
9. Complete installation of Roanoke Area Criminal Justice Information Network (RACJIN).
Goals and Objectives for 2012
1. Complete 2nd term of accreditation files by September 2012 and have at least one Mock.
2. Comprehensive evaluation of FTP.
3. Complete Emergency Operations Plan revision.
4. Fully staff narcotics unit.
5. Incorporate optics on patrol rifles.
6. Basic crime evidence tech on each shift.
7. Train bike officer on each shift
8. Complete drug module and make operational.
9. Upgrade juvenile web cam system after new computers installed.
10. Complete FCC mandated narrow banding mandate.
11. Upgrade EOC alternate power source.
12. Surplus obsolete property.
13. Have GIS mapping (AVL-Auto Vehicle Location) installed in our current mobile data terminals along with the six additional terminals that are going to be delivered. Install appropriate software in the six new laptops.
The Department participated in numerous community events last year. These included:
Fourth of July Celebration
After Prom Party Security
Meadowview Apts. Kids Day
Business Ribbon Cuttings
Chamber of Commerce Youth Excel Program
Chamber of Commerce After Hours Social
The Department has numerous partnerships with community organizations. These associations include:
Pulaski Community Partners Coalition
Pulaski County Coordinating Council
Local Emergency Planning Committee
Regional Information Sharing System (RACJIN)
Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
Virginia Crime Prevention Association
I appreciate your time and interest in reviewing this summary of agency service and activity during the past year. I would also like to express my thanks to all of the men and women of the Department who perform these vital services for our community. We are fortunate to have this group of dedicated professionals that are willing to respond to any situation regardless of the nature of the incident or the tragedy involved.
G. W. Roche
Chief of Police