Havre’s various departments had a successful year in 2010, with some gains and some losses.
According to Police Chief Jerry Nystrom’s analysis of the past year and the two prior years, the department is doing well.
Total offenses for 2010 came in at 2,786, down from last year’s 2,883. That figure was also lower than 2008’s 3,066.
Nystrom’s figures showed a reduction of 17 percent in felony offenses.
The number of arrests at the site of the crime, or “on-view” arrests, went up 19 percent. Summonses to appear for offenses, issued after the fact, have gone down 37 percent.
Nystrom attributes this progress to his staff.
“This is the best I’ve seen it yet,” Nystrom said. “These are some of the best people I’ve seen working here.”
In the other half of the building, in the Havre Fire Department, the staff is performing with significant changes.
Toward the end of the year, in late November, Assistant Fire Chief Tim Ranes brought his 26-year career to an end, retiring after nine years in that position.
As of Dec. 16, firefighter Tim Hedges has been appointed as Ranes’ replacement.
Although the fire department lost an administrator it gained a few new vehicles. A new fire truck came earlier this year, and a new ambulance is on the way.
Now as the year draws to a close, the fire department is getting ready for contract negotiations next year.
So far the negotiations have just consisted of correspondence between city attorneys and the firefighters union, though talks should commence early in 2011.
Mayor Tim Solomon said that the city had decided not to hire a negotiator for the discussions.
“It puts more money in the employees’ pockets if we don’t have to pay someone to argue it out,” Solomon said.
Another way the city is lending its departments a hand is with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services grant the City Council approved earlier this year.
With that three-year grant, the police department will be able to hire a new officer to pick up the extra work as one officer is placed on “community-oriented activities,” according to Nystrom.
Aside from one dedicated officer, Nystrom said the department is planning on launching a “citizens’ academy.”
The academy will offer Havre citizens a week’s worth of law enforcement training over the course of a month or two. The training will include ride-alongs and training in police procedure and equipment.
Nystrom said that there is currently something of a barrier between the city and the police department and “we’re trying to break down that barrier.”