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Crime drops, arrests rise

Violent crime dropped in every category but rape in February and property crime dropped in all categories. Meanwhile, drunken driving arrests more than doubled. And there were half as many drunken-driving accidents.

It was mostly good news Wednesday at the police department's monthly crime strategy meeting.

Calls for service dropped by 350, freeing up officers to do more proactive work. Arrests jumped by 40.

"We can see the fruits of our labor. When our folks have time to go out and do the work, they do a bang up job," said Lt. Scott Rudisil.

Officers used decoy cars to catch car thieves at an apartment complex. Detectives used social media to track down stolen computers and return them to their owners. And police officials celebrated the continued downward crime trend in Downtown.

A recording-industry association plans to give the police department and a Downtown bar association an award for its private-public partnership, which is reducing crime while protecting business.

The meeting began with a commendation for retired Officer Cherokee Hotard, who retired in 2006 but still serves as a reserve roughly 30 hours a week.

Among his duties: reviewing accident reports. Because of his effort, people involved in collisions don’t have to wait as long for copies of police reports.

“We can’t give bonuses but what we can do is say thank you very much,” said Police Chief Dan Hughes.

Hughes complimented his patrol team for spending time at schools at the beginning and end of the school day, and encouraged officers to continue to get out of their cars and hand out stickers to kids.

“We are giving parents and teachers a sense of peace,” he said.

Hughes also said the department’s homeless liaison program is becoming a model. Agencies are calling and visiting and asking questions about how they can start their own programs.

“You guys should be very proud of what you are doing,” he said. “We are getting compliments from all over the place.”