Aggressive, dedicated police work has led to a significant three-year drop in crime in Longview, Police Chief Jim Duscha said. But Longview still has higher crime rates than the statewide average.
Duscha reported to the City Council Thursday that Longview’s overall rate of serious “Group A” crimes has decreased 24 percent since 2015.
He attributed the success to assigning patrol officers to the same area for an entire year. As a result, the officers and the community get to know each other, and police are able to prevent crime.
In addition, the Street Crimes Unit has aggressively worked to pull criminals off the street, Duscha said in an interview Friday. And when crime does occur, the agency has a 52 percent success rate of making sure the arrest ends in charges.
“That’s just aggressive, solid, very good police work,” Duscha said Friday. “They’re not just report-takers; they’re investigators. They keep digging to get all the evidence so they can present it to prosecutors so arrests can be made.”
Since 2015, crimes against people in Longview have declined from 24 per 1,000 to 20.2 per 1,000 in 2017. Such crimes include homicides, sex offenses, intimidation, kidnapping and simple and aggravated assault.
And property crimes such as robbery, burglary, arson, larceny, auto theft, fraud, stolen property and vandalism have declined from 77.1 to 54.9 per 1,000 over the same time period.
In 2017, the Street Crimes Unit removed more than 15 pounds of meth and heroin, as well as 719 prescription pills.
However, Longview police have also reported a 27 percent increase in fraud offenses. Duscha said these reports include forgery, credit card scams and counterfeit money. Longview residents should be careful about protecting their credit cards from ATM and phone scammers, he said.
While Longview’s overall rate of serious crime has dropped to 87.1 per 1,000 population, it is still higher than the state average of 62.1 per 1,000.
Duscha he said he expects momentum to reduce crime to continue. A full-time domestic violence detective is expected to join the department in April.
He said he also hopes to add another traffic enforcement officer to help reduce traffic collisions and remove criminals from the street.
“There’s a lot of national studies that show if you have an aggressive traffic enforcement program, you are going to get people off the streets that have warrants for their arrest,” he said.
The department has 60 officers and an operating budget of about $12.5 million. A 2009 study recommended bringing the staffing level up to 64.
City Manager Kurt Sacha said adding four more officers would cost the city about $400,000 in benefits, clothing and vehicles.
“If I could get our department up to 64, we could do a lot of really good things,” Duscha said.
A remodel of the police station is slated to wrap up early next week. The Major Crimes and Street Crimes units are expected to move into their new offices on Tuesday.
The Police Department will host an open house May 19 to show the public its newly remodeled digs.