Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bellevue crime rate down since 2008

City still wants to cut costs


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Despite a drop in Bellevue's crime rate since law-enforcement services there were taken over by the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, economic constraints may force the city to lay off one officer.

During a City Council meeting Thursday, June 23, Marshal Brad Gelskey handed the council a color-coded map of all law enforcement calls during May 2010. The map was made with information provided by the Blaine County emergency dispatch system. It indicated the location and type of dozens of emergency calls during the 31-day period, including traffic stops, harassment calls and liquor violations.

Gelskey described the map-making process as "time consuming."

According to the map's statistics, the city has seen a drop in crime and an increase in arrests since 2008, the year after the Sheriff's Office took over law enforcement in the city.

From 2008 to 2010, the city's number of total offenses dropped from 134 to 86. During the same period, the number of arrests increased from 57 to 65.

Former Bellevue Marshal Bryan Carpita, who stepped down as marshal last month and was also at Thursday's meeting, interpreted the data as an indication of improved law enforcement in the city.

"Obviously, there is a positive influence from us being there," he said.

The city spends $415,000 each year for law enforcement at the Marshal's Office, compared with a total of $376,000 before the city contracted with the Sheriff's Office. Under the current contract, the city gets one full-time marshal, three full-time deputies and a full-time records clerk stationed at the office during business hours.

The contract calls for 24/7 law enforcement coverage for the city.

Sheriff Gene Ramsey said the city could save $65,000 by cutting one officer position, a change that would reduce police coverage in the city by 14 10-hour shifts per month.

A town hall meeting has been tentatively planned for Thursday, July 14, at City Hall to measure support for the proposed change in law enforcement services.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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