VALPARAISO | Statistics released Tuesday by the Valparaiso Police Department for 2012 show a 14 percent decrease in the number of major crimes reported compared to 2011.
Valparaiso Chief of Police Michael Brickner takes no credit for the drop in crime rates reported Tuesday by his department.
Brickner compared crime statistics to a roller coaster, saying some years they're up and some they're down.
The good years are not necessarily a result of officers working harder, he said. And those years when crime rates have risen don't indicate a lack of effort by the department, he said.
Brickner said although the statistics aren't a gauge of police performance, he and others at the department check crime statistics daily, weekly and monthly to help them determine whether special patrols or other action is necessary.
The department's Special Deployment Unit, which was organized in 2008, is used to target patrols to specific areas of the city based on recent crime activity.
The most notable difference between 2011 and 2012 is the drop in the number of thefts reported in the city. In 2011, 785 thefts were reported. That number dropped to 645 in 2012.
Brickner said he is committed to keeping the Police Department consistent and progressive.
"Valparaiso is a good, safe community, and we're here to maintain that," he said.
He pointed the increased number of tips sent via an anonymous text-messaging system as a tool the community has embraced, which has paid off for officers.
During 2012, the department received 199 anonymous tips via the Tip 411 system, which was initiated in 2010.
The tips range from cases of drug use, to suspicious activities, school issues and even traffic and noise complaints.
Brickner said school safety has been a high priority for the department, even before the shooting at the Newtown, Conn., shooting. He said the department has two full-time school resource officers who work in the high school and two middle schools. Other officers take part in an Adopt a School program where officer regularly visit a particular school as time allows, to meet with students and to serve as a liaison between school employees and the department.
Also released Tuesday were statistics on the city's most dangerous intersections. On top of the list is the roundabout at LaPorte Avenue, Sturdy Road and Lincolnway where police responded in 2012 to 28 accidents.
The next five, in order, were LaPorte Avenue at Silhavy, Ind. 2 at Ind. 49, Morthland Drive at Strongbow Centre Drive, Morthland Drive at Washington Street and Morthland Drive at Sturdy Road.