He went on to tell the group the current statistics of the police department and the crimes they deal with regularly.
The department has 139 employees with an $8.3 million budget, Snyder said, including its civilian personnel; 86 of these are sworn, badge-carrying police officers. He’s been with the department 32 years.
The average education level is 14.7 years and the average age 39. Six members of the department are also members of the National Guard. And, he was glad to add that no one from the department has had to be laid off, although the department is “down six from what we normally would be,” mainly through attrition.
“We try to contribute (to cost savings) as much as other departments,” he said, such as working on securing grants, for example.
It’s been an especially tough time for him recently because of the death of officer Justin Maples. Not since 1955 has a Cleveland police officer lost his life while on duty.
“You never think it will happen in Cleveland,” Snyder said.
Most calls are false alarms, he explained to the assembled crowd. A cat up a tree. Someone hears a noise. Someone thinks someone is breaking into their home.
“But there’s always that one ... you think it’s just another call ... and then, the world falls apart ... and it can happen anytime. You never know how close you came,” he said, pausing for a moment, seemingly reflecting.
“You wonder at the end of the day just how close you came that day,” he said. “Stay close to God. At any given time, none of us know if we have another moment.”
Changing the subject, the chief gave some specific crime statistics.
Cleveland is in a unique situation because of its geographic location between two fairly large cities — Chattanooga, just a few miles south down the road, and Knoxville to the north, only about an hour away, he said. And Chattanooga has been continually growing north, closer to Cleveland, for the past few years, and Cleveland is growing down closer to Chattanooga.
Despite being close to these two larger cities with larger crime issues, Snyder said, “We’re fortunate to be so close to a very large city and still maintain our quality of life ... we don’t see the crime (in Cleveland) those two deal with ... I’d like to say it’s because of good police enforcement,” he said, jesting a little, “but it’s the culture (of the people).”
But this situation will probably change.
“An increase in crime will occur,” he said. “We’ll grow and crime will grow.”
According to the Cleveland police department, for all of 2011, Cleveland had 53,139 calls for service. By the end of May of last year, it had 22791; 19867 this year for the same time period. In May 2011 alone there were 4888 calls; 3895 for May of this year.
For all of 2011, Cleveland had 53,139 calls for service. By the end of May of last year, it had 22,791, and 19,867 this year. In May 2011 alone, there were 4,888 calls; 3,895 for May of this year.
The total number of crimes in Cleveland in 2011 totaled 4,615, with 1,777 by the end of May 2011; by the end of May 2012, it’s 1,842. For rapes for the year 2011, 26; 10 by the end of May 2011, and 15 in 2012, with three for both May 2011 and 2012 alone. For assaults, for the year 2011, 911; 349 by the end of May 2011, and 396 in 2012, with 78 for May 2011, and 100 for May 2012. For burglaries, for the year 2011, 378; 138 by the end of May 2011, and 134 in 2012, with 30 for May 2011, and 32 for May 2012. For auto thefts, for the year 2011, 88; 33 by the end of May 2011, and 26 in 2012, with eight for May 2011, and seven for May 2012.
For the entire 2011 year, Cleveland had 2,757 traffic accidents. By the end of May of last year, it had 1,065; 1,165 this year for the same time period. In May 2011, there were 239 recorded accidents; 210 for May of this year.
Also, crash statistics so far this year indicate that more motor vehicle accidents occur in Cleveland between 3 and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays than other times or days of the week. Paul Huff Boulevard and North Lee Highway is the intersection with the most crashes.
Last year, Cleveland had one homicide.
“It’s a bad year for Cleveland if we have two or three homicides,” he said. “We’re fortunate in this area. It’s not particularly violent.”
On a good note, there has been no increase in robberies in Cleveland, and burglaries are down, as are auto thefts. Cars are getting harder to steal, and, eventually, Snyder believes, cars will be made in such a way that they will be impossible to steal.
However, the bad news is that rape — usually acquaintance-type rape encounters — has gone up a bit recently. For example, a woman — a victim of her own good nature — was assaulted when she was trying to help someone who said he had run out of gas.
Remember situational awareness, Snyder said, cautioning all women, as they go through their day, to train themselves to be aware of their surroundings.
“Train yourself,” he said. “It can get you out of many bad situations.”
Traffic accidents also are increasing. And, from a police standpoint, when traffic cameras were being used, traffic accidents decreased; when not in use, accidents went up.
Both Chattanooga and Knoxville have traffic cameras.
“Cameras do decrease accidents,” he said. “They put people on the alert. They drive a little differently.”
But he also realizes that civil liberties are an issue in this case.
He hopes eventually a middle ground can be found.
And although meth labs have gotten a lot of press, it is prescription meds that are more of a problem, Snyder revealed — especially pain killers and opiates. Doctor-shopping is the problem. That’s where people go from one doctor to another to get multiple prescriptions for these same medications.
Also increasing from last year are simple assaults and petty larcenies.
In a couple of weeks, Snyder also reported, people will be able to access a new website — crimereports.com — to find out about the area’s reported crimes such as sex offenders and others. In fact, the police department plans on giving the Cleveland City Council a demonstration of the new website.
“You’ll be able to ... see what’s going on in every area of your city,” Snyder said. “We depend on the community to help us. Our daily population is greater than the residential population. We’d much rather you call ... this is your city. This is your community ... please get involved.”