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Ripon crime drops despite staffing cuts, population rise
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RIPON - One-year crime comparisons from the fiscal year of 2009 to 2010 by the Ripon Police Department showed a decrease across the board with fewer officers and a slight increase in population with only 24 patrol officers.

Forced-entry burglary reports dropped from 19 to eight. Thieves who used other means of entry brought an increase from 12 to 23 burglaries.  Attempted burglaries dropped from five to just two in the last fiscal year.

First Sgt. Steve Merchant quoted one paroled burglar on the street who said he was being very careful because of the department’s powered parachute that he knew was watching from the sky.  It has in fact been instrumental in finding at least one burglary in progress, along with discovering lost rafters on the Stanislaus River, officers said.

While the city grew from 15,260 to 16,904, residents’ motor vehicle thefts were cut in half from July to July in 2010 with 40 dropping to just 20 last year.  Auto thefts dropped from 16 to 10, while trucks and buses decreased form 15 in 2009 to four last year.

Ripon officers had a total of 233 larceny cases in 2009 with 197 in 2010. 

A firearm was used in the commission of two robbers in 2009 with only one reported last year.  Strong-arm robberies accounted for five cases in the first year of the recorded statistics with only two last year.

Assaults dropped as well from 148 to 112 reported to Ripon authorities.  Eight had been carried out with a knife the first year dropping to two in 2010, and 12 with other dangerous weapons decreasing to six last year.   Simple assaults dropped from 123 to 97 in the year-to-year comparison.  Misdemeanor arrests dropped from 1,289 to 1,004.

There were no homicide or manslaughter cases either year, and the total felony arrests were down from 195 to 170.  There also were fewer traffic stops noted in the statistics:  8,379 in 2009 compared to 5,134 last year.  Fewer citations were issued with a smaller number of officers on the street.  Some 2,500 were written last year in comparison to more than 5,100 the prior year.

All in all there were 3,273 reports taken by officers in 2010 in contrast to 4,018 the previous year.  The number of traffic collisions was about half of that in the year earlier:  57 to 117.

Ripon officers are directed to take their patrol units home when they are off shift and park them at their residences.  They also use them when shopping within the community to maintain a high police presence.  The stream from the more than 60 surveillance cameras throughout the community can also be viewed in each police car and in other city vehicles.

There are also license plate cameras mounted at one freeway off ramp that scan vehicles coming into the city in an effort to detect stolen vehicles.  Once a dispatcher is alerted by one of the cameras units are notified of its location and direction of travel.