Police experience a lot of changes

Friday, March 9, 2018

LE MARS — The Le Mars Police Department experienced several changes in the last year, according to the Le Mars Police Department Annual Report for 2017.

Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte presented his annual report at a recent city council meeting.

One of the changes involved the retirements of Chief Stuart Dekkenga on June 30 and Captain Tim Hop in September, with Vande Vegte taking over as chief.

With those retirements came two new hires. Vande Vegte said the two officers are attending the police academy and he expects them on the street in May.

He reports overall activity for the department is at a five year high, with 14,684 total activity contacts. Those contacts include: complaints, adult arrests, juvenile arrests, reportable accidents, citations, warnings, parking complaints and calls for service.

Vande Vegte noted 68 percent of all traffic stops result in a warning.

“We do not stop individuals to create a funding source for the city. We stop individuals to correct problems,” Vande Vegte said.

“I am happy to report accidents are at a five year low since 2013. With that we have not had a fatality for a couple of years,” he said.

Vande Vegte created a new category, Community Police Contacts, in September which tracks community outreach.

“It’s officers getting out there and doing things they have not traditionally been doing. We’re doing it a little different,” Vande Vegte said.

There were 734 Community Police Contacts from September to December 2017.

Other community outreach projects are the House Watch Program, foot patrols of all Le Mars schools, foot patrol of after-hours businesses and at Floyd Valley Healthcare, Coffee with a Cop, active shooter training for businesses, business meetings and contact updates, DARE, and the start up of the Bike Patrol.

Vande Vegte also shared some 2017 highlights. They include:

• Officers patrol seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This coverage equates to 2,500 shifts a year covered by 13 officers.

• Officers patrol 76 miles of Le Mars roads an average of 410 miles per day, or 150,000 miles a year. This is split among six patrol cars.

• Officers spend roughly 100 hours per year in training.

• National Night Out in August when police hosted an open house.

• Police chief appointment in August, Vande Vegte began duties.

• Capt. Tim Hop honored as Boss of the Quarter in September.

• Two new police officers hired in November.

• Patrol car and police patch re-design.

• Bar inspections.

• New police building plans.

• Bike patrol start up.

• Animal control.

Vande Vegte noted the bike patrol and DARE programs are funded by donations from the community.

The report also lists 17 different training opportunities which officers attended at various times during the year, including active shooter training, crime scene training, sex abuse training, and elder and financial crime training.

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