Major crime rose last year in Grapevine, but Police Chief Eddie Salame told City Council on Feb. 4 that his department is committed to reversing it.
Salame provided the Council with a departmental update, including the 2013 annual report that provided a snapshot of statistics and information ranging from staffing to budget and crime.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, major crimes rose 18 percent in 2013 over the previous year. Called Part 1 crimes, they include murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery, auto theft, burglary and theft, according to police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling.
“While this information can be discouraging, I think it’s important to mention that 2012 was an exceptionally good year for the city,” Salame said. “With the increase we saw last year we are more in line with the average crime rate we have seen over the last five years, excluding 2012. Despite this fact, we are committed to returning to the 2012 levels and making those numbers the norm rather than the exception.”
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A message from the chief — posted on the city’s website after the presentation — said the police department faced many challenges during 2013.
“One of the most significant was the community-wide search for a prisoner that escaped while being transported from Florida to Nevada,” Salame said.
The escaped fugitive/manhunt resulted from the attempted capital murder of a Miami-Dade detective.
“The city of Grapevine found itself saturated with law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies,” Salame said. “Grapevine police officers worked around the clock and were steadfast in their efforts to capture the prisoner before any citizen was injured.”
He said they were “diligent in their efforts to ensure the citizens of this community felt safe.”
“The manner in which they conducted themselves and the tremendous courage and commitment they exhibited made me proud to be a member of this police department,” Salame said. “The entire community should take comfort in knowing the dedication and caliber of the men and women working to protect them and their families.”
The police chief noted that 2013 also brought the completion of the DFW Connector Project.
“The end of this major roadway project had a huge impact on the workload of our patrol and traffic division,” Salame said.
He said statistics showed that the number of vehicle crashes steadily declined as the project moved towards completion.
Salame also addressed the plans for a new public safety building.
On Nov. 6, 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved — 77 percent — a general obligation bond issue for the proposed sale of nearly $70 million in bonds for two projects. One was for the new public safety building and the other was for improvements to the city’s Community Activities Center.
In 2013, “we also acquired a building site and began the design of the new public safety building, approved by the voters in 2012,” the police chief said.
The public safety building, for which $38.5 million in bonds was earmarked, will be constructed on property east of the Target store on Ira E. Woods and will house police, detention, fire administration, municipal court and information technology.
Brinkley Sargent Architects was selected to design the 108,000-square-foot, four-story building and Manhattan Construction Company as the construction manager at risk. The building is in the design development stage with groundbreaking anticipated in January and completion in October 2016.
“This is a project that we are anxious to complete and look forward to breaking ground in January 2015,” he said.
The budget for the department begins annually on Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. The department has a budget of more than $15 million.
According to Salame, the police Uniform Operation Division handled approximately 65,000 calls for service, made more than 1,900 arrests — including more than 300 DWIs — and conducted more than 32,000 traffic stops “all in an effort to make Grapevine a safe community for our citizens and visitors.”
Salame summed up his report saying, “The city of Grapevine is a wonderful place to live, work and play and this police department is committed to keeping it one of the safest cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.”