L.A. still a ‘low crime’ community

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Annual police report upholds trend

By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos is not without crime, according to Police Chief Wayne Torpy.

“I prefer to say that we have a low crime community,” he said in his annual report Tuesday night to the county council.

There were 499 prisoners in 2009 or a total of 4,519 prisoner days, he pointed out. Another way to look at it is if the 499 prisoners each spent about 10 days in jail, that would be a little more than 4,500 prisoner days.

There were no murders, no robberiess and nine rapes in 2009.  There were a few burglaries and a dozen or so larcenies in an average month.

For the year as a whole, Torpy reported several accomplishments and offered a series of statistics on the current state of crime and public safety in the county. Along the way, he credited good people and excellent staff and support from the council and county staff.

The main achievement for 2009 included progress on an arduous New Mexico Accreditation process. Torpy expects that task to be concluded this year after a series of policy reviews, audits and compliances.

Other accomplishments include completion of the new animal shelter, having the new Justice Center next door and sharing in the efficiencies of the centralized district, magistrate and municipal courts and completing the jail with what Torpy called, “a state of the art security system to ensure the safety of the staff as well as the inmates.”

He mentioned two programs in particular in the jail, one for drug and alcohol counseling and

another that facilitates a GED degreee.

Among the charts in the report, Torpy emphasized the importance of record-keeping and noted the statistics collected under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program that enables comparisons on with other communities in the state and nation.

Counselor Ralph Phelps wondered about gang activity and asked why an apparent increase in drug arrests was not included in the chart, although arrests have nearly doubled from 58 last year to 100 this year.

“I don’t disagree,” Torpy said. “I’d be more than happy to include it,” but he said it was an area where the numbers did not accurately reflect the situation.

“It can be misrepresented or misunderstood,” he said.

“Public safety is one of the highest things people like about this community,” Councilor Robert Gibson said during the discussion. He asked about long-term trends.

“Generally, things haven’t changed,” Torpy said, referring to 10 years for which he could make comparisons.

Torpy has produced written annual reports in past years, he said, which he has routinely dropped off in councilors’ mail boxes. This year, in his fifth year as the police chief, he plans a wider distribution of the report.

One page in the report takes on unusual predator for a police department — the large animals who share the mountain landscape. The text offers precautions and advice on issues related to bears, mountain lions bobcats and coyotes.

In other business Tuesday, the council introduced an ordinance to terminate an economic development project with Elemetric Instruments, LLC, “and commence collection of the outstanding loan amount and foreclosure” on the county’s security interests.

No decision was reached on the possibility of broadcasting council meetings in White Rock.

Finally, council unanimously approved goals and evaluation criteria for the county attorney, but the goals and criteria for the county administrator were not ready for presentation.