Police chief releases quarterly crime report

Interim Police Chief Kelly Merritt gave the Susanville Police Department’s quarterly status report to the Susanville City Council at its Aug. 1 meeting.

The status report gave a summary of all of the department’s efforts, whether being community outreach, educational programs, updates to their equipment and other facility improvements.

Merritt told the council the department sent officers, himself included, to the Whaleback Fire evacuation zones since Friday, primarily to chase away looters in the area.

Their activity report showed increases from the last quarter in the areas of traffic and parking citations (75), with slight increases in misdemeanor and eight felony arrests. The activity report also showed increases in domestic violence, vandalism and animal complaints.

The incident count overall this quarter has risen by 234 and the numbers of cases issued increased by 558. Merritt told the council it was “quiet a bit of a jump.”

Incidents of robbery, burglary and theft were reduced by a total of 17 incidents since the last quarter, and incidents of private property vehicle collisions, homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault and arson all stayed the same in reference to the previous quarter.

With 13 sworn officers, two non-sworn officers and a total of five open positions, the department has declared itself not fully staffed.

The open positions entail the chief of police, lieutenant, sergeant, police officer and a part-time community service officer.

The report shared the department will potentially have a second police officer position open, pending the sergeant position being filled by an internal promotion.

The department is also hoping to promote an experienced and qualified officer in a timely manner to help with the supervisor’s duties.

The department in continually providing training to their staff, focusing on core classes for all officers including some specialized training.

As of December 2018 the department will be on schedule to complete all trainings, including Crimes against Children, Multi-Disciplinary Interviewing, Basic Traffic Accident Investigation, Basic Investigators Course, Response to Mental Health, Firearms Instructor, Taser Instructor, Field Training Officer Update and Sherman Block Leadership Institute trainings.

The department is continuing to work alongside the neighborhood watch groups and has made community outreach efforts at Lassen High School and the Lassen County Children’s Fair. They’ve held fundraisers and low cost clinics for pets of community residents.

In April the department held an assembly at Lassen High School addressing the entire student body of about 800 on the issues of sex crimes. The report shared sex crimes are on an upward trend among the 12-18 age group. The students were divided into groups by their gender and were educated on the subjects of rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, sodomy, foreign object penetration child pornography and the subject of consent.

At the Lassen County Children’s Fair, the department taught about gun safety.

The LHS Claybreakers team held a fundraiser where they challenged local law enforcement agencies. All of the local agencies participated to raise funds for the team to be able to participate in more tournaments. At the meeting, Merritt told the council, “We got our butts handed to us and I’m not happy about it,” which received laughter from the group.

At their rabies clinic the city staff sold a total of 163 dog licensees, county staff sold 96 licenses and 273 dogs and cats were vaccinated.

The new patrol truck has been fully outfitted and will be assigned as the sergeant vehicle, with the previous sergeant SUV patrol vehicle to be utilized by patrol officers, replacing the aging and inoperable police sedan.

Their server and phone systems were updated and installed and with the SCORE grant, the department was able to outfit all patrol officers and sergeants with a rifle-proof armored plate and carrier for a rapid response to an emergency situation.

Each patrol vehicle has been fitted with a medical kit and all patrol rifles have been updated to the more modern day standardized equipment.

The department has also made improvements to their facility security; installing security/privacy slates to their parking lot chain link fence surrounding the lot. Security lights will also be installed at the entrance of the back parking lot, with the city public works department declaring the installation underway.