The fire and police departments in Richmond Hill recently turned in their annual reports for 2008, which shows little change from 2007.
"The reports show that Richmond Hill continues to be a safe place to live," Mayor Richard Davis said. "And that’s in comparison to just about anywhere around."
The numbers have gone up, but RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds and RHFD Chief Vernon Rushing both say this is more of a reflection of increased population as opposed to an upward trend in activity.
"I’m very pleased with the numbers our police and fire departments have been able to maintain," Davis said. "Much of it can be attributed to the chiefs, who run a tight ship and do a great service to this community."
There were 831 arrests inside the city limits in 2008, compared to 676 in 2007. There was only a slight increase in burglaries, thefts while assaults went down slightly.
"We didn’t have a lot of your more serious crimes last year," Reynolds said, noting the city only ever had one homicide – in 2001. "The ones we did were solved."
A closer look reveals that the most significant change in the reports is the rise of DUI arrests, which nearly doubled from 111 to 213. Stats show that more people were pulled over in 2008 than ever before, yet the number of citations went down 5,074 to 4,993. On the other hand, the number of warnings shot up from 3,789 to 5,045 for 2008. In other words, about half the traffic stops get away with a warning.
Reynolds said his officers are more visible than ever. He said this plays an important role in keeping both crime and accident statistics low.Accident statistics actually went down from 546 to 481. Reynolds said the hot spots for accidents in the city are at the intersection of 144 and 17 and the intersection of Harris Trail and 17. He said the addition of the Harris Trail/17 traffic light greatly reduced accidents there.
As for the fire department, there were nine structure fires in 2008 as compared to six the year prior. Chief Rushing said that is about average.
Rushing also said there was a 21 percent increase in calls, "and if you check the population increase, I bet it would come pretty close to that, so it was a pretty standard year."
Rushing said, overall, it was a good year for the department. The training program grew to where the first Module One class was held in the city.
Fifteen local men and women graduated from the program last year to become volunteers for the city and county.
Rushing also spoke of the firefighting presentation that was given to 2,300 school kids and talk of replacing the old fire station on Hwy. 144.
Reynolds said 2008 was a good year for his department as well.
He spoke of the addition of motorcycles and the alcohol ordinance, which he hopes to reduce the numbers of kids being able to attain alcohol.