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Brittany Lawonn, Published March 02 2009

Fargo crime stats down overall but police focusing on property crimes

FARGO – Property crime continues to increase in Fargo, but crime is down overall in the city, Police Chief Keith Ternes said this morning.

Fargo experienced a 1.4 percent reduction in crime in 2008, despite an 8.9 percent increase in property crimes, Ternes said, citing statistics released today.

Ternes noted a third year of fewer methamphetamine cases in the city, with 62 cases reported in 2008. The city reported 104 meth cases in 2007.

That’s down significantly compared to the 248 cases reported in 2005, Ternes said, crediting aggressive prosecution, regulations on substances and good police work.

“It’s very quickly becoming a non-issue here in the community,” he said. “It’s the police officers out on the beat that have made this a priority.”

Traffic citations increased in 2008, with 21,134 issued. Crashes also went up for the second year in a row, with 4,277 crashes last year, Ternes said.

Police will make traffic enforcement a continued priority, the chief said, adding the department will have to make do with the resources it has to increase visibility as a deterrent.

“It’s the one thing that people around the city bring to our attention more than anything else,” he said.

For the second year in a row, arrests for driving under the influence are down. There were 894 arrests in 2008 compared to 1,030 in 2007. A record of 1,110 arrests were made in 2006.

“I’m still convinced that the number of impaired drivers out there at any time is constant,” Ternes said, adding the reduction could be from the department’s inability to spend as much time on that issue as it had in the past.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Forum.