Mountlake Terrace police made more traffic stops and issued more citations for traffic infractions during the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarters of 2011 and 2010, according to statistics released by the police department this week.
Drivers were pulled over by officers 2,292 times in the first three months of 2012, up from 1,947 stops in January-March of 2010, and 1,870 stops in January-March of 2011. As a result of those traffic stops, 1,237 tickets were issued in January-March of this year, compared to 927 in January-March of 2010 and 1,036 in January-March of 2011.
The numbers were part of the 2012 First Quarter Code Enforcement and Crime Statistics Report given during the City Council work/study session May 17.
Police Chief Greg Wilson and police department leadership have placed an emphasis on patrols watching for traffic infractions and stopping drivers for moving violations. Both traffic stops and infractions written in the city have risen significantly from the first quarter of 2008, when 1,316 stops and 584 infractions were written. Wilson took over the top job in the department in August, 2008.
“We’re measuring traffic stops, but a lot of crime is discovered during traffic stops,” reported Assistant Chief Pete Caw. “It’s not unusual to make drug arrests, DUI arrests, driving while suspended arrests, warrant arrests.”
“All the bad guys seem to drive, and it’s a really good way to contact them,” Caw added.
By emphasizing active patrol stops on city streets, police are highly visible to the public and become a deterrent to overall crime, according to Caw. “When an officer makes a traffic stop and is standing outside an offender’s vehicle, people pass by, people see it,“ Caw said. “It tends to have a psychological effect; it helps us reduce crime.”
Councilmember Seaun Richards asked Chief Wilson if the patrols constituted “aggressive police activity” that some might call “being a revenue generator for Mountlake Terrace.” Wilson responded, “It’s more a proactive approach, aggressive way of dealing with misbehavior within the city. We want to make this a safe place to live.”
Wilson also commented on other statistics in the report. Although there hasn’t been a significant increase of violent crime in the city so far this year, “we did see a slight increase in property crime, burglaries, but that’s not unique to Mountlake Terrace,” Wilson said. “It’s occurring throughout the region.”
Police are working to address that issue through “proactive work by our detective division,” Wilson said. “We’ve been very successful in identifying a number of people, and arresting those individuals, who were responsible for several burglaries.
“I’m very pleased with the results that we’ve been able to accomplish,” Wilson said.
The police department’s first-quarter report also presented statistics covering calls to 911, filing of court cases, revenue collected from fines and electronic home monitoring, traffic accidents, code and parking enforcement, animal control and monitoring of sex offenders.