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Perham Police see spike in traffic calls

When it comes to drunk driving accidents, Otter Tail County remains one of the top 13 deadliest counties in Minnesota. For local drivers, this means more police on the road.

The State Department of Public Safety is working on this issue alongside local law enforcement, including the Perham Police Department, offering grant dollars for increased traffic enforcement through a program called Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

As an active participator in the program, it came as no surprise to Perham Police Chief Jason Hoaby that the city saw a spike in traffic-related calls in 2012 when compared to the year before.

According to Perham Police Department's annual report of calls for service, Perham officers conducted 646 traffic stops in 2012, an increase of 541 compared to 2011's total of 105.

This shows traffic stops to be more than six times higher in 2012 than in 2011.

Of the 646 traffic stops last year, 327 warnings were given, and 319 citations.

The increase in traffic stops contributed to an overall increase in the number of calls, with last year's total calls at 2,221, up 460 from the year before.

The Perham Police Department also saw an increase in calls to assist neighboring police or sheriff's departments, with an increase of 66 bringing the total number of assists to 170.

There were also 93 parking complaint calls, many of which resulted in tickets. This is up 65 from 2011. Hoaby said this increase is mostly due to a snow emergency parking ordinance enacted by the city in 2011, which denies vehicles the right to park on the street when snow accumulation is two inches or more.

Officers also saw an increase in thefts, especially reports of theft from a vehicle. Theft calls came in at 111 - an increase of 35.

Despite the rise in traffic calls and small thefts, the police department has seen decreases in many other areas.

There were 35 fewer calls for animal complaints and 18 fewer domestic disturbance calls. Social service calls, in which a child suffered from physical or sexual abuse or neglect, also decreased, by a total of seven calls. There were fewer burglary reports in 2012, too, with 12, seven less than in 2011.

It was a busy year for the Perham Police Department in 2012, and the high traffic enforcement will likely continue this year, as Perham continues to work 'Toward Zero Deaths.'