Parkersburg’s police chief compares department data through the years from crime to staffing

Parkersburg's police chief discusses department data.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 12:57 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Parkersburg Police Chief Matthew Board presented an overview of crime and police numbers through the last eight years at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. More specifically in the first nine months of each year.

WTAP has more on police staffing, crime numbers, and the why behind the data.

Police recruitment is a challenge for the Parkersburg Police Department as it is for law enforcement across the U.S.

Board emphasized, however, that there has been effort to increase those numbers, pointing to the 12 officers the department’s hired in the last 17 months.

“But, even with the 12 officers we’ve hired, we are still down 16 officers from our max capacity,” he said.

That comes along with less staffing and more calls. Board compared 2016 to 2018 numbers to now.

“Comparatively, officers then we had 64 - 67 officers and they were handling 15,000 to 17,000 calls, now we’re handling 24,000 to 26,000 with 56 officers,” he said.

While shoplifting numbers peaked in 2018 with 304, it’s decreased since with 243 this year.

Board attributes this to the following factors - homeless outreach coordinators, the police department’s uniform division, the police department’s investigative division, and the magistrate court liaison.

“If someone does violate a bond he (magistrate court liaison) makes sure it gets revoked and then, once again, we have the L.E.A.D program and homeless coordinators to follow through and drive the point home,” he said.

Board explained that homeless coordinators try to help homeless people by connecting them with resources that can help get them out of homelessness. They also work with the magistrate court and the L.E.A.D. program to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders. L.E.A.D. stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion.

Petit larceny, which is when people steal things off your porch, from your car, etc. have decreased significantly from 451 in 2016 to 241 this year.

“It’s because of data-driven patrols and just refocusing and reallocating manpower where it needs to be,” Board said.

Breaking and entering has also significantly decreased with 146 in 2019 and 39 this year.

Board pointed to the same enforcement measures that helped with petit larceny.

Trespassing, on the other hand, while on the decline, has skyrocketed according to Board.

In 2016, Board counted 10 (10 situations in which police had camera footage and took enforcement action), in 2019 he counted 62, in 2021 he counted 105, in 2022 he counted 76, and that number stayed the same this year.

Board said that, even with more calls and less officers, his department is holding the line.