According to Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon, the three percent increase in calls for service from 2015 to 2016 can likely be attributed to increased visitation to Williams.
Nixon released the 2016 Statistical Report for the department, which showed the department responded to 12,944 calls for service in 2016 as compared to 12,567 calls in 2015.
“Calls for service take up most of our officers’ time,” Nixon said. “This can be anything from a burglary call to go check on a car in an alley and with basically 10 officers working the streets, that’s a lot of calls.”
Nixon said when he first began as police chief, the winter calls slowed down for officers.
“We would go two or three days without a call, but that just doesn’t happen anymore,” he said. “I don’t believe the population has changed much but we have societal changes, increases in transients and a better economy. The town is just packed all the time and that generates calls for us.”
Noncriminal dispatch calls increased in several categories. The department responded to 112 calls for motorist assist as compared to 90 in 2015.
“We get a lot of people locked out of cars,” he said.
The largest increase in non-dispatched calls were for medical assistance where officers assisted Life Line ambulance or Williams Fire Department. They helped with 134 calls as compared to 68 in 2015.
“I think that again has to do with the economy, we had a lot more visitors to town this year,” he said.
911 calls were up with 4,498 calls in 2016 and 3,396 in 2015.
Animal control calls were down from 541 in 2015 to 477 in 2016.
The greatest number of calls were officer welfare checks and checks on senior citizens. Officers checked on residents 1,876 times in 2016 up from 1,631 in 2015.
“Most of those are senior citizen checks,” Nixon said. “Our officers call them in the morning and the evening and if they don’t answer we go over there and check on them. In fact we saved three of four lives because of that. It’s a great program.”
Officers increased their amount of forest patrols in 2016 from 1,046 up from 857 in 2015.
“We contract with the forest service to run patrols for them since they don’t have enough people,” he said.
Nixon said officers nightly conduct business security checks with officers clocking in 1,867 checks in 2016.
“We slip a card in the business to let them know we checked,” he said. “If it’s not secure we will call them up. We don’t always hit every business, but sometimes we do.”
Traffic stops also increased, with officers conducting to 2,829 stops, an increase over the 1,886 in 2015.
“I think that is also because of all the visitors,” he said. “It’s hard to compare year to year though because that is dependent on the number of officers.”
Responses to bar fights and incidents doubled in 2016, with officers responding to 103 bar scenes in 2016 as compared to 59 in 2015.
“The bars are good at letting us know things are going south before something happens,” he said. “We give many folks a ride home.”
Officers issued 673 citations, responded to 184 automobile accidents, and took 29 reports of fraud.
“That concerns me, the increase in fraud,” he said. “We have been having many reports of scams on Craigslist. Somebody lists a home for rent and they don’t even own the house.”
Nixon said the number of calls is high but he said he still believes Williams is a very safe place.