WEST LIBERTY – The West Liberty Police Department responded to more calls for service in 2017 than in previous years despite the closing of a residential facility that contributed to a number of complaints for years.
In February 2017, Adriel’s governing board voted to close the West Liberty-based residential facility following allegations of staff abusing drugs with youths and showing pornography to youth, among other alleged abuse.
Since taking over as West Liberty police chief in 2012, Shane Oelker said the department has seen an increase in the volume of calls by 1,000 each year.
With the closure of the West Liberty facility, Oelker said he was interested in seeing if the number of calls for service would drop.
According to information provided by Oelker, the total number of calls for service in 2017 was 6,481 which was up from 5,883 in 2016.
Starting in 2012, Oelker said the department started seeing a significant number of calls for service related to Adriel.
“We started to see kind of an increase in 2012, 2013 it started to kind of build, 2014 was a pretty rough year as far as calls for service for Adriel,” Oelker said.
In 2012, the department’s total number of calls for service was 1,903, in 2013 it was 2,814 and in 2014 it was 3,929.
A Daily Citizen article from February 2015 states the West Liberty Police Department received 110 calls for service to Adriel’s campus in 2012, more than 300 calls in 2013 and 462 calls in 2014.
Oelker said Adriel went through a transitional period in 2015 where they did not have as many children at the campus and the number of calls for service relating to Adriel decreased. However, Oelker said the number of overall calls for service stayed the same and the number of calls for service that year was 4,853.
Oelker said the continued increase in calls for service following Adriel’s closure is a little bit surprising.
“I figured our numbers would drop off or at least stay similar to those 2015 numbers,” Oelker said. “I guess that tells me we are either doing more as far as community policing or crime has increased a little here.”
Oelker continued by saying West Liberty has not seen a lot of property crimes such as vehicle break-ins or vandalism.
While the number of calls for service has continued to increase with Adriel’s closure, Oelker said this indicates officers are staying busy and addressing issues they might not have been able to previously.
Oelker said he anticipates the number of calls for service to stay steady in the future.
“You don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Oelker said. “You try to forecast these sort of things but we don’t have a lot of businesses moving in so we’re not going to see a huge increase in the building checks and things like that.
“We are seeing our felony arrests have increased in 2017, (operating a vehicle under the influence) arrests are up a little bit over the past couple of years. We are seeing a little bit of more drug activity and some drug arrests, not to numbers of some of the other areas or pockets in the two counties, but we are starting to see some of that here.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.