Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Fees at Woodstock PD

The Woodstock Police Department is no longer just a law-enforcement agency. Apparently, it is becoming a profit-center, revenue-generating department for the City of Woodstock.

I've been writing about Vehicle Impoundment Fees since discovering the ordinance passed quietly by the City Council on January 17. In June "only" $6,000 in impound fees was collected by the police department. "Only" means that the police department impounded 12 vehicles at $500 per, bringing the year-to-date total to $45,000 for the 90 vehicles towed away.

In his January 3, 2012, letter to the City Manager (and City Council), Police Chief Lowen estimated that his department would impound about 50 vehicles, raking in $25,000. During the first five months (February-June) of enforcement, officers are well ahead of the projection. In fact, they are only 10 shy of the year's estimated total, as of June 30.

But there are two new fees now showing up in the Police Department monthly report to the City Manager (and City Council).

A "processing fee" in the May report is now described as a Bail Processing Fee, and the P.D. collected $840 in June. Where did that fee come from?

And a new fee, showing its face for the first time in the June report, is "Smoking Violation Fines". In June the amount was Zero. That'll change, for sure.

Here's a refinement to the PD's monthly report. What do you make of this?

"The reduction in criminal arrests is directly attributed to a new policy of reporting juvenile arrest data. The Police Department will no longer include juvenile contacts in the juvenile arrest category. We have determined that .... including the juvenile contact in the juvenile arrest category is not an accurate reflection of juvenile criminal activity in the City."

Well, duh....  Geez, Louise... How long were "contacts" included in "arrests", improperly inflating the arrest numbers? It helps to understand what a "contact" is. If a Woodstock cop sees five kids loitering on the Square (no law against loitering) and talks to them, then he has made five "contacts".

I wonder what $100,000 expert law-enforcement professional finally figured out that the "numbers" were skewed way out of proportion by counting contacts as arrests?

This may be just one more reason why a Citizens' Police Advisory Committee is needed in Woodstock.

And maybe the community would like to know more about the three death investigations in Woodstock in June and what the components were in the $73,053 in the June stolen property total. The members of the City Council certainly never ask any questions in public during City Council meetings about the monthly PD report.

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