Thursday, January 04, 2007


by Joyce Tremel

Most organizations rely on statistics to inform them how well they did the previous year. Corporations need to know how much money they made. Hospitals track how many patients were admitted. Stores want to know which customers bought what products. Police departments are no different. Township or city officials want to know how many calls the police responded to and for what.

Every month, approximately 17,000 police agencies in the country collect statistics and compile them into what is called a UCR, or Uniform Crime Report. This data is sent to the FBI, who has been charged with archiving these statistics. The FBI issues a yearly publication, Crime in the United States.

Anyone can view these crime statistics. Writing a book set in Chicago and need to know how many murders they had in 2002? Moving to Shaler and want to know how many burglaries we had in 2005? A couple of clicks of the mouse and you have an answer. Even if you don't need statistics, the FBI website is a wonderful source of information for writers. Check it out.

In case anyone is interested (or even if you're not, I'm going to tell you anyway), Shaler Township Police Department answered 9828 calls in 2006. (Guess who got to type most of those reports?) The highest number of calls were Emergency Medical Assists (1078).

In Shaler, police always respond to EMS calls. Everyone is trained in CPR and the AED, and many times the police arrive before the paramedics. There's also a chance the call could turn out to be something else. For instance, Aunt Mary calls 911 and says Uncle Bob had a cardiac arrest. The police arrive and find out Uncle Bob was really hit over the head with an iron skillet by Aunt Mary.

Not likely, but it could happen. And if not in real life, you can always put it in your book.


kathie said...

Hey Joyce,
statistics are funny little buggers--easy to use to suit one's needs, huh? You live in Shaler? I grew up there and my parents just moved after 36 years of being there. I'm shocked to hear the cops were that busy last year. We used to leave our keys in the car in the driveway! I wonder how you folks code things like kids caught underaged drinking who spend the night in jail but aren't arrested? My sister and brother were treated to a night or two in the Shaler jail, but never really got in trouble. I'm sure that's not the case anymore...the small town cops treating kids as one of their own thing is probably well in the rear-veiw mirror by now.

mike said...

It's one thing to say you type police reports, Joyce, but then you put a number on them--9,828--and my fingers ache and my eyes glaze over! You deserve more than a raise; you deserve your own plaque on the dept. wall of honor.

BTW: What's an AED? I'm usually pretty good at deciphering acronyms (bet "D" stands for "device") but not this one.

Joyce said...

Kathie, for things like underage drinking, the kid gets a non-traffic citation for PA MVC code 6308-Underage Drinking. They have to appear before the magistrate and are either fined $300 plus costs or sentenced to 40 hours of community service. In Shaler, kids usually get community service.
And even the cops kids get cited. Our new state representative was a sergeant when his son was caught at an underage party several years ago. The one cop was going to let him go, but the sergeant insisted that his son be cited along with the other kids. (He will be a great rep--the most honest person you'll ever meet!)
Shaler doesn't have a jail, just a couple of holding cells. Anyone who is physically arrested is either taken to Shuman (juvenile), or the ACJ (adults). It might have been different years ago, but now most people are cited by mail.

Mike, believe it or not, this was a slow year. Two years ago we had over 12,000 calls.
An AED is an Automatic External Defibrillator.

Kathie mentioned leaving keys in cars--don't do that! Lock your cars even if they are parked in your driveway. We've had a rash of thefts from vehicles because people don't lock their cars. Don't make the secretary have to type more reports!

Tory said...

Wow, Joyce, that's a lot of calls! How many people work in the police Dept. in Shaler?

Judith said...

Joyce: Is there one day of the week that is busier than others? Or one time of before Christmas... or during a full moon? And what is AED

I agree with need a raise. Go get Aunt Betty to lobby for you. LOL

Joyce said...

Tory, we have 29 officers total. We used to have more, but you know how government is--you have more crime, so they give you less personnel! There are two civilians-me (who is still part time) and an administrative asst. who is basically the Chief's secretary and she does the billing and stuff like that, and does my job when I'm off.

Judith, the busiest day for me is Monday, because I have the reports from the weekend. For the officers, the busiest times are usually 4-12 and 12-8 on the weekends. That's when everyone misbehaves. And people do get weird when there's a full moon.