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Published February 13 2013

VIDEO: Fargo chief seeking more officers as crime stats, service calls increase

FARGO – The Fargo Police Department is “slightly understaffed” and will ask for more officers in the city’s next budget as calls for service continue to rise, hitting an all-time high last year, Chief Keith Ternes said Wednesday.

Personal crimes jumped 17 percent and property crimes increased 13 percent last year over 2011, but both categories were near the five-year averages, Ternes noted.

“I think you’ll find that the data indicates that Fargo continues to be an incredibly safe community,” he said.

The Police Department received 55,584 calls for service in 2012, up more than 4,000 from 2011 and a 20 percent increase since 2008, according to year-end crime data presented by Ternes during a press conference at City Hall.

The department has 145 sworn officers, about 90 to 95 of whom are assigned to patrol. There were times last year when 15 or more patrol officers were out because of injury, family medical leave or other factors, Ternes said.

“I think we need to have no less than 150 police officers to adequately police the city today. It gives us the chance to be proactive, much more proactive than we’re capable of doing right now,” Ternes said, adding he’s not oblivious to the fact other city departments also need additional resources.

Lt. Joel Vettel said the increased demand on officers’ time likely contributed to a decline in the number of arrests last year to 7,632, a five-year low and down 8 percent from 2011. Also, more investigations resulted in long-form complaints to prosecutors instead of physical arrests, he said, again citing the increased workload on officers running from call to call.

Other highlights from the data:

All of the clearance rates for specific Part 1 crimes were within 10 percent less or more of last year’s rates, including a 31.4 percent clearance on vehicle thefts, 38 percent for robbery, 21.9 percent for burglary, 58.4 percent for GSI, 75.2 percent for aggravated assault and 43.6 percent for theft.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528


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