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Newport police calls up, fire service steady

While the city of Newport doesn’t typically see the crime sprees larger cities experience, it does have its fair share of illegal activity.

Police Chief Curt Montgomery and Fire Chief Mark Mailand presented their respective year-end reports last week, and said while the number of calls have increased, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“It just means that the residents are becoming more comfortable with coming to us and reporting something that doesn’t look right,” Montgomery told the City Council.

The Newport Police Department has five full-time officers, one patrol officer/investigator and one community service officer. During 2013, the number of total events the department reported was just over 9,000, up from 7,700 in 2013.

The total events figure, he said, includes anything that was written down from traffic stops and welfare checks to school patrols and arrests.

The amount of felony and misdemeanor offenses varied from previous years. In 2013, the department documented 27 felonies (26 in 2012), 40 gross misdemeanors (27 in 2012), and 88 misdemeanors (66 in 2012).

“These are actual in-person arrests,” Montgomery said. “These people were caught red-handed, arrested and brought to jail.”

Juvenile incidents also increased, specifically problem calls. There were 87 problem calls reported, up from 57 in 2013.

Montgomery attributed the increase to more parents reaching out for help, and calls dealt with underage smoking or drinking, truancy and curfew violations.

One area that slightly decreased is property damage complaints. Forty-four were reported in 2013, down from 56 in 2012.

“We really try to stress that residents need to look out for each other,” Montgomery said. “We would rather have you report something and it turn out to be nothing than not report and it turns into something.

“Our crime rate is not abnormal,” he reiterated. “And these numbers aren’t meant to scare but inform.”

Fire calls consistent

Mailand said last year’s data showed there is “no rhyme or reason” to predicting when and where fires will occur.

August was the busiest month for the fire department, and the year saw a total of 111 incidents, up slightly from 91 in 2012.

Mailand said they only needed one mutual aid assistance but offered mutual aid 13 times in 2013.

The department responded to 19 medicals, 12 smoke scares, and seven building fires.

“The most common call we received (in 2013) was building fires and (carbon monoxide) incidents,” Mailand told the council.

City Council member Tom Ingemann, who is also an assistant fire chief, said over the years the numbers have remained stable.