Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:58

Rockingham police, fire departments present annual reports

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Rockingham Fire Chief presents the fire department's annual report to the Rockingham City Council on Tuesday. Rockingham Fire Chief presents the fire department's annual report to the Rockingham City Council on Tuesday. Chuck Thames - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — The chiefs of the city’s fire and police departments on Tuesday presented the City Council with a round of statistics from their respective annual reports.

The Rockingham Fire Department responded to 541 calls in 2018 — down from 548 in 2017.  There were 12 structural fires versus 19 the previous year. Fire Chief Harold Isler said in his report to City council Tuesday night, 

“That tells me the fire prevention and education programs we are providing are working,” Isler told the council. “I want to see those numbers go down, not up.” 

The department pours a significant amount of time annually into fire and life safety education, he said. A  total of 106 programs were completed and 112 hours of instruction and effort was logged on issues such as child safety seats, fire extinguisher, fire safety and public relations. 

The department restarted its smoke detector installation program this week. The program is designed to assist those in need of equipment in their homes. 

After just one day, the backlog has already booked enough requests to keep the firefighters busy into June. 

Isler encourages those in need — especially those without any detectors — to contact the department to sign up for the program. 

The total amount of property exposed to fire in 2018 was $75,930,500. Total estimated damage to property was $1,354,350. 

The department also responded to 170 wrecks in 2018. This was down 74 as compared to 2017.  Fifty-six injuries were reported along with one fatality. 

FELONY ARRESTS INCREASE

Police Chief Billy Kelly said his department responded to 16,322 calls in 2018 as compared to 15,868 in 2017. This equates on average to 1,020 calls per officer. Forty-two percent of those calls were of a non-criminal/public assistance nature including things such as bank escorts, assisting residents with public utility problems and unlocking vehicles.  

“While all of these services are not traditional police matters, we feel that they are valuable to the community and will continue to provide them,” Kelly said.

The breakdown of arrest activity is as follows :

In the traffic enforcement category, 2,408 citations were issued compared with 2,987 in 2017.  

“It is the continued goal of the department to increase traffic enforcement and to maintain high seat belt usage rates and low personal injury collision rate,” Kelly said. 

There were 191 charges of drug activity filed by the Vice/Narcotics division in 2018. These arrests are part of what Kelly calls a zero-tolerance drug program. 

“The department will continue to aggressively seek out, arrest and aid in prosecuting those people responsible for drug trafficking in our community,” he said.    

According to Kelly’s report, in addition to the 17 methamphetamine incidents in Rockingham, the police department is currently also involved with a federal methamphetamine conspiracy investigation locally.  

To further aid with reducing the potential for prescription drug abuse, the department continues to participate in Operation Medicine Drop. In addition to collection days at Medical Center Pharmacy, a dropbox at the station gives residents a method for safe disposal of unused, unwanted or expired medications. In 2018, residents were able to safely dispose of more than 100,000 dosage units as a result of this program. 

The department continued its annual Shop with a Cop” in 2018 with grant money provided by Walmart, the Rockingham Rotary Club and Cascades. 

The program allowed for 10 children chosen by counselors at L.J. Bell Elementary School to enjoy a trip to Dairy Queen and Walmart with officers. 

The students were each given $200 gift cards and the chance to buy gifts for their families. While shopping, the officers paired one-on-one with each child discussed the importance of good grades and staying out of trouble. 

“It’s s program we look forward to every year, and we will continue it this year,” said Kelly.

“I’d like to credit all the accomplishments of the police department to the men and women at the department, they truly work hard and are an amazing group of people,” Kelly concluded. “With your continued support, we look forward to 2019.”  

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 April 2019 13:08