Report: Larceny, assault, vehicle thefts dropped in 2009

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

Portales saw drops in the number of reported cases of larceny, assault, motor vehicle theft and criminal damage, but an increase in burglary in 2009, according to information from the Portales Police Department.

Police Chief Jeff Gill and Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry presented their annual report for 2009 at the Portales City Council meeting Tuesday night in City Hall.

According to police department numbers, motor vehicle theft dropped 61.5 percent, criminal damage 29.1 percent and assault 11.5 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. Larceny cases decreased 39.5 percent.

“We were really, really happy to see that,” Berry said of the drop in larceny cases.

Burglary was up 9.7 percent, and drug cases increased by 18.8 percent, according to the department. However, Berry said officers sought out drug cases, so the increase there was good.

Data shows one homicide in 2009, the same as in 2008. Reported rape and robbery cases both dropped by one, from four to three.

Also, Berry told the council about a Web site where the department is maintaining a crime map that gives locations of and information on crimes in Portales. It is available to the public.

“We think this is a very useful tool that’s going to be a benefit,” Berry said.

For example, people can use the site to see where good neighborhoods are, he said, and Berry is already looking for crime patterns on it.

Berry said he checks the information for accuracy four to five times a day.

In another matter, City Manager Tom Howell introduced new Street Superintendent Jerry Rose, who is replacing retired superintendent Joe Perry.

Rose, who was hired Jan. 23, said he plans to “just keep going” in his new position. He had been the senior equipment operator with the city street department, and has worked for the city in some capacity for 21 years.

In other business, the council:

• awarded a $414,500 bid to Ramirez and Sons Inc. of Hobbs for roadwork, drainage improvements and installation of sidewalks on sections of East First, East Amazon and East Brazos streets.

• awarded a $182,400 bid to SRS Construction LLC for landscaping medians on U.S. 70 north of the Square.

• approved requests to submit grant applications for airport improvements, roadwork and the local drunken driving prevention program.

• authorized the mayor to execute a cooperative agreement with the state Department of Transportation to provide money for road work.

• honored wastewater plant Chief Operator Mike Stroik for his 25 years of service with the city.