Elm Grove crime stats hold relatively steady

April 29, 2014

Crime statistics in Elm Grove provided a mixed bag of results in year-over-year comparisons. Several categories were on the rise, and staffing has been in flux within the police department.

Elm Grove Police Chief James Gage came before the village board Monday with the department's 2013 annual report, a 61-page document touching on criminal activity, staffing and training.

The village historically posts low crime statistics, meaning even the slightest variation can result in a large change in percentage points. Case in point: four auto thefts were reported in 2013, compared to zero in 2012, resulting in a 400 percent increase.

Residential and retail thefts also were on the rise. Fifty-nine cases were reported in 2013, compared to 38 cases in 2012. But a longer-range view of thefts within the village reveals the numbers have held steady. From 2008 to 2011, thefts ranged from 58 to 72 incidents.

Burglaries dipped slightly, from 12 cases in 2012 to 11 cases last year. Cases involving aggravated assaults held steady, with two incidents a piece in 2012 and 2013. Sexual assaults decreased, from one reported case in 2012 to none last year.

There have not been any cases involving homicides or robberies within Elm Grove in recent years. This past year, however, police did respond to a serious incident that fell outside the parameters of either category, according to the FBI's uniform crime reporting, or UCR, guidelines.

"The department handled a significant death investigation that resulted in two offenders being charged with first-degree reckless homicide," Gage said. "Based on UCR reporting rules, this incident is counted as a drug offense and not a homicide."

Two veterans departed the Elm Grove force last year. Gus Moulas, assistant chief, retired in September after 37 years of service, and officer Eric Schmitt retired in August after 31 years of service. Schmitt in recent years served in a variety of roles, including firearms instructor and evidence technician.

Two full-time officers were brought into the department in July to fill the impending vacancies. At Monday's board meeting, Gage revealed one of the officers has not satisfactorily completed the probationary phase of the training process.

"Our probationary period did what it was intended to do, and we had to release the officer," Gage said without going into specifics. The department is in the process of seeking a new officer.

With 17 sworn officers in the department, Gage said, the influx of staffing has resulted in less activity within the department, as evidenced by traffic and parking citations.

Traffic citations dipped 16.65 percent, from 3,214 issuances in 2012 to 2,679 in 2013. Parking citations dropped 23.21 percent, from 56 in 2012 to 43 last year.

In an attempt at keeping police operations running as smoothly as possible during the continued staffing transition, the board on Monday voted to keep retirees Schmitt and Moulas in the fold.

Schmitt will work on the force on a part-time basis, helping alleviate overtime use, and his temporary position is expected to end on or before Dec. 31. Moulas is assuming a part-time position aimed at using his paramedic and emergency medical service expertise.

The Administrative and Personnel Committee reviewed both appointments before bringing a favorable recommendation to the board.

"One person gone is a strain, and two people gone is a big strain," Trustee Jack Nelson, chairman of the committee, said, explaining the rationale behind the part-time hires. "This is important from a public safety perspective."

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