The stats: Crime down in Middle for the most part

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More narcotics, jaywalking details planned

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – While non-violent crime rose by 11 percent in Middle Township last year, violent crime fell by about 35 percent, according to the township police department’s annual report.

Police Chief Chris Leusner attributes the reduction partly to strengthening the department’s presence in Rio Grande.

Police have heavily focused on that community, especially being at the motels, he said. Officers have conducted narcotics investigations, jaywalking details, vehicle stops and more.

Rio Grande has one of the county’s largest commercial districts, with several big-box stores, including Walmart and Lowe’s.

Police also saw a decrease in being called out for service in 2012 in the 70-square-mile township, reads the annual report. Having fewer officers, particularly Special Class II officers, in the summer meant a decrease of officers initiating service calls.

Officers handled 38,308 calls for service in 2012 compared with 40,545 in 2011, according to the annual report released last week.

The number of arrests also went down to 1,227 in 2012 from 1,421 in 2011. Most of that reduction can be attributed to arrests for warrants, shoplifting and assaults, according to the annual report.

Vehicle crashes equaled about the same as last year, though there was an increase in fatalities. In 2012, there were 887 vehicle crashes, with 895 in 2011, according to the annual report.

Six people died in accidents last year, two of whom were two teens allegedly hit by a drunken driver in Green Creek in July. In 2011, two people died in crashes.

The number of vehicle summons police issued went down to 3,724 in 2012 from 4,299 in 2011.

Ninety-six people were arrested for driving under the influence compared to 105 in 2011, according to the annual report. Domestic violence increased to 269 last year from 221 in 2011, which is more consistent to 2010 and beyond, according to the annual report.

The annual report includes several goals. This year, police plan on stepping up narcotics and jaywalking patrols in the township.

Last year, 25 narcotics investigations were conducted, some with the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office. Twenty people were arrested on drug-related charges and police seized numerous drugs and drug paraphernalia.

One of the goals of the department for 2013 is to execute at least 10 narcotics search warrants that would bring drug distribution chargers.

The police department would tackle that with having more confidential informants and teaming up with the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Gangs, Guns, and Narcotics Task Force to do at least four undercover operations, according to the report.

Last year’s goal was to execute at least six narcotics search warrants.

Police officers, wearing plain clothes, walked and bicycled in Rio Grande to look into drug distributions reported on routes 9 and 47 in Rio Grande, especially in the business and motel districts.

Middle Township Special Services Unit conducted 14 quality of life details in Rio Grande, with 55 people being arrested.

Also in Rio Grande, 24 people were issued summons for jaywalking last year.

A new goal for this year with the patrol division is doing 12 jaywalking details and distributing pamphlets at five community events.

The department would increase the presence of patrols at crosswalks and use social media to increase traffic safety awareness and let the public know of the enforcement efforts.

Two police officers from the Major Crimes Unit are also assigned to Middle Township High School and Cape May County Technical High School. Part of the duties for the school resource officers include walking through the buildings, keeping an eye on safety.

At Middle Township High School, in 2012 there were 34 investigations, 28 follow-up investigations and 24 arrests. Last year, there were 27 investigations, seven follow-up investigations and 27 arrests, according to the annual report.

Cape May County Technical High School saw 30 investigations compared to 34 in 2011; nine additional compared to seven and five arrests to 10 in 2011.

Police do not only investigate incidents in the township but also within its department.

Internal affairs investigated 29 incidents, including one officer being demoted for violating the sexual harassment policy; another being suspended for 10 days for misconduct while on duty; and one being suspended for 30 days because the officer went outside the chain of command.

The police department also faced 24 work-related injury incidents last year. Eight officers were injured while working and missing a total of 31 days of work, such as for a vehicle crash, knee injury and leg injuries.

Five police officers were involved in vehicle crashes while on duty, including one police vehicle struck by a vehicle driven by a drunken driver, and another officer was responding to an emergency.

See the police department’s annual report at

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