The Watertown Police Department released its annual report on Friday. The report indicates that police officers responded to 24,676 calls for service in 2019.
According to Watertown Police Chief Lee McPeek, that is a 12% increase when compared to 2018 and up 9% compared to their 5-year average.
McPeek says adult arrests were down 20% over 2018. He says a majority of the decrease was seen in the area of drug arrests and he says, “What this optimistically means is that by being more proactive with an educational component, as well as specialty courts like drug court, we are possibly turning the corner and reducing drug use.”
In total, the Watertown Police Department saw an overall 27% decrease in arrests for drug-related offenses. McPeek says that Marijuana and Methamphetamine continue to be the drug of choice in Watertown and across the state of South Dakota and his department will continue to work closely in partnership with entities to combat and reverse the trend through the use of drug courts, public education, town hall meetings, rehab programs and increased law enforcement efforts.
McPeek also said that Under-age Consumption of Alcohol Arrests of those between 18 and 20 years of age was down 18.6% over 2018. The Watertown Police Department began an aggressive zero-tolerance campaign for underage-consuming in 2017. That resulted in the formation of a community coalition that McPeek says, has worked to combat the problem.
Traffic citations were up 12% from 2018. Officers issued 1,537 traffic citations and issued 4,959 warnings. A significant increase in speeding citations were noted in the report. In 2018 officers issued 241. In 2019 they issued 436. That number is still lower than in 2017 when 517 were issued.
The report also indicates that the Watertown 911 Call Center, which dispatches for seven counties (Codington, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Roberts, Clark, and Day) answered 47,373 - 911 calls in 2019.
Chief McPeek and Assistant Chief Tim Toomey will join us in the KXLG Studios Thursday morning, February 6th, at 9:00 am to speak more about the annual report.