Police activity increases in town of Beloit
TOWN OF BELOIT--The town of Beloit police chief is hoping to add an officer next year to help handle growing numbers of calls and officer activities, which have increased nearly 18 percent in the last two years.
Chief Steve Kopp said the trend supports his plan to request another officer when 2014 budget discussions begin in the coming months.
“The volume of activity we're involved in increased, and the nature of the type of calls we're responding to has changed,” he said. “On too many occasions, the types of calls we're responding to are calls that require more than one officer.”
That's a problem because “too many times” the department only has one officer on duty, forcing a call for backup from surrounding agencies, he said.
“We have a very excellent and cooperative working relationship” with the Beloit Police Department and Rock County Sheriff's Office, he said.
Police activity, which includes service calls, traffic stops, follow-ups and other officer duties—increased 17.6 percent from 2010 to 2012, he said. This year's numbers are 8 percent ahead of the same time last year.
The department has nine full-time and four part-time officers. Those numbers have remained steady since Kopp took over the department in March 2011. An additional officer would minimize the times when only one officer is on duty and likely reduce overtime, he said.
The start of 2013 brought “significant criminal activities,” including several shootings on Wisconsin Avenue and numerous drive-by shootings in that area and in the city of Beloit, where officers sometimes respond to provide backup, he said.
Kopp said it's incumbent on him to make sure the department has adequate staffing when officers are responding on a regular basis to gun violence calls.
The number of shooting incidents has subsided, “but you just never know when those things are going to start up again,” he said.
Officers also are responding to more domestic violence calls, which have a propensity toward violence toward officers, he said.
“Those really dictate a two-officer response,” he said. “When you only have one officer on, it's a dangerous situation.”
The department relies heavily on overtime, and it is about halfway through the $91,000 budgeted for overtime, he said.
Attention is given to all complaints and issues brought to the department, Kopp said, but he admitted certain areas of the town have chronic issues, such as speeding on Inman Parkway.
“Because we know that traffic generally travels well above the speed limit, we pay as much attention as we can,” he said. “Reality is, we only have so many officers.”