SOUTH FORK— During the monthly meeting of the South Fork Town Board on Feb. 27, board members learned about some changes that will be made to the monthly reports they receive for meetings.
Town Administrator Dan Hicks explained that the police reports will now include a breakdown of incidences in order to make the reports easier to read. One of the goals for Hicks to complete when hired on last year, was to organize the reports and make them more transparent for both the public and the board.
The police report will now include an annual breakdown of incidences alphabetically in order to track trends that are occurring within the town. “Don has adopted this new format in order to track trends and compile data. He went back as far as he could, which was the middle of 2016 and put together all the numbers into different categories, which we will use going forward to try and see trends,” explained Hicks.
The trends that Police Chief Don McDonald and Hicks will be looking for is an increase in activity in certain areas. Town board members stated that the report was a great idea and would serve as a base to see where work needs to be done in South Fork and how much activity is handled by the police department.
In previous years, the town has had discussions pertaining to dissolving the police department completely, due to the lack of activity that was being reported and the high cost the department creates. Now, with the data being compiled, it is easy for the board members to see the need for the department and additional officers that have added to the total amount of expenses in the year-end reports.
“We will be tracking activity in this format from here on and it will be easy to see at a glance what the department is doing not only by the month, but by the year,” explained Hicks. For the month of January, there were a total of 483 calls, 160 of those calls were answered by dispatch, which the town pays a service fee for and the remainder were answered in town hall by Melanie Hart, who has been trained to handle the calls for the department, lowering the cost being paid to the dispatch service for the past several months.
“During January, which you can see on the report, there were two major incidences which turned out to be chargeable offenses. There were 64 traffic stops, three of which were arrested for outstanding warrants, one accident, 35 citations, 33 tickets and two warnings,” explained Hicks. With the new report, board members were able to see the comparison between months, making it easy to discern a trend.
The reports will be included in the monthly packet prepared prior to meetings and available online at www.southfork.org under “Meeting Packets.” McDonald continues to work on the department transparency, gaining community trust and working to improve the town by focusing on problem areas that have gone unreported for some time.