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Elko residents got some good news this week when Police Chief Ben Reed presented his department’s annual report to the Elko City Council. The city’s crime rate is down — in nearly all categories – although police remain as busy as ever.

The department began a new and significant chapter in its history when it finally moved out of its crumbling facility into a state-of-the-art new headquarters on Silver Street.

Staffing shortages ran as high as 20 percent at times, but Reed reports that “several promising officers” were hired and completing their training.

In conjunction with the Elko County Sheriff’s Office, the department also maintained law and order in Elko County schools. This program has not only kept students safer, it has helped police keep a positive presence among the community’s youth.

“SRO’s have been increasingly recognized by students and parents outside of school and have seen a substantial increase in the amount of phone calls or other contact they have received outside of work hours by parents and students requesting our assistance with issues both at school and outside of school,” reported Reed.

Police detectives closed more cases than were opened in 2016, and received training in technologies such as cellphone forensics and advanced computer voice stress analysis.

“In addition, the move into the new police facility provided detectives with an improved laboratory for evidence processing, including latent fingerprint fuming capabilities and proper evidence drying capabilities,” Reed reported.

Even with the lower crime rate, police handled more calls for service and made nearly as many arrests as they did in the prior year. Arrests were down by about 100 compared with 2015 after rising by about 100 over the prior year.

Drug abuse and drug-related crimes continue to be a problem in Elko, but it was good to see the overall decline in both severe and less serious crimes.

There was a big drop in burglaries, down from 305 in 2015 to 178 in 2016, which Reed credited to the successful prosecution and imprisonment of suspects. More work remains to be done, however, as Elko’s burglary rate remains above the national average for a city of this size.

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The good news is that Elko residents and business owners can take action to help police fight this type of crime, and it is not expensive or dangerous. The number of professional home security services has expanded in recent years. A check on the internet listed five choices, with monthly fees as low as $30.

If that’s too steep for your budget there is a wide selection of do-it-yourself systems. These have gotten cheaper, along with most other types of electronic equipment, and produce much higher quality images than old systems.

With an average of one burglary happening in Elko every other day it makes sense to install a home or business security system. Or, if you already have one, consider upgrading it.

Catching burglars and getting them to pay for their crimes is much easier when there is evidence that police and prosecutors can use for an arrest and conviction. The EPD’s annual police report is proof that incarceration works to reduce property crimes in our city.

Let’s thank our police for all of the hard work they do to protect and serve us, and do what we can to help make their jobs easier whenever possible.

Elko Daily Free Press editorial board members are Travis Quast, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak McKown.


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