Powell Crime Stats Generally Looking Good

January 7, 2020

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By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune

Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt recently provided the city council with an annual update on police and criminal activity in Powell for the latest years in which data is available.

Eckerdt said it can take six months to two years before data comes down the pipeline from the FBI to the local level, but the statistics for Powell are looking good.

“We’ve had a general decrease in our overall incidents,” he said.

Most crimes between 2014 and 2018 showed a general downward trend, including property crime, assaults, breach of peace and disorderly conduct. Drug and alcohol violations were up. Sex crimes were also up very slightly, and Eckerdt said this was partly due to a change in how certain crimes are categorized.

Violent crime rates in Powell rose from 2 per 1,000 residents to nearly 3.5 between 2016 and 2017. Powell ranked above the average for other Wyoming cities (of 2.5 violent crimes per 1,000 residents) but slightly below the national average of about 3.7 per 1,000 residents.

Powell’s violent crime rate was down slightly from a peak of about 3.6 per 1,000 residents in 2012. The figures for 2018 on this category are not yet available for the city.

Meanwhile, the Powell Police Department’s calls for service dropped from a peak of 7,691 calls in 2014 to 6,726 in 2017. The figured climbed again to 6,960 in 2018.

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Officer activity, such as traffic stops, fell considerably between 2017 and 2018, which Eckerdt attributed in part to transitions within the department. While adding new officers, they had to complete a lot of training and classroom time. This also increased overtime hours, as officers had to cover the shifts of other officers in training.

Data showed warnings exceeded traffic citations for most infractions. Eckerdt said the department likes to see warnings about 70 percent higher than citations.

“We have to police within the bounds of what the community is willing to accept,” he explained.

The chief said they aggressively target traffic infractions, but only give citations when the driver “truly has it coming,” such as when they have multiple infractions for the same offense.

In 2018, there were 50 warnings for cellphone use while driving but no citations issued.

He also discussed annual community events the police department participates in, such as the Jackalope Jump, in which people jump into a pool of icy water to raise money for Special Olympics.

The department also has annual ceremonies around Memorial Day to honor officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Powell officers visit the graves of Charles Lewis and Anthony Nelson. Lewis was Powell’s police marshal in 1939 when he and Sheriff’s Deputy D.M. Baker were shot to death while trying to apprehend a suspect. Nelson suffered a fatal heart attack while making an arrest in 1950.