Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TOP STORY >> Fewer accidents with traffic lights

Leader staff writer

Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis reported to the city council’s fire and police committee last week that vehicle accidents decreased 9 percent in 2011 from the average of the three years before.

“The coordination of the (traffic) lights has helped us a lot,” Davis told the committee.

But 3,044 incident calls for 2011 were a 6 percent increase over the average for the three previous years, and the 19,397 calls for service were a 19 percent increase.

His department arrested 1,355 adult offenders in 2011 and 143 juveniles.

Of that number, 531 did time in the city lockup, an average of 3.4 a day.

Mayor Bill Cypert and Davis hope to work out an agreement with Lonoke County this year to house city prisoners in the new county jail. Doing so would eliminate the city’s liability for housing prisoners and free the dispatchers to do that job alone without also tending the prisoners as jailers.

Davis also reported 84 arrests in 2011 for driving while intoxicated and 88 felony and misdemeanor drug arrests.

To free up space in the state prisons, changes in drug laws now make some former felony offenses misdemeanors. For that reason, Davis said an accurate breakdown of last year’s drug arrests would be very difficult.

Those drug arrests also netted $6,804.95 in cash and three vehicles.

Fire Chief Phil Robinson reported an overall decrease in calls including calls to assist the police with traffic accidents. Like Davis, he said the coordination of traffic lights has helped.

Incidents were down from 2,523 in 2012 to 2,463 in 2011.

The total for 2011 included 18 building fires compared to 21 in 2010. And forget what you’ve heard about firefighters getting cats out of trees. They were called out for one animal rescue in 2010 and none in 2011.

But they did extricate three people from vehicles in 2011, down two from 2010. And during all the rain last year, they rescued three people from swift water.

They answered 27 unintentional false fire alarms. They worked 111 vehicle accidents with injuries and 56 without injuries as well as seven accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.

Robinson gave committee members a handout showing 75 different categories of incidents that firefighters respond to. Only 11 were blank for 2011. For example, there were no collapsed structures, no fires in motor homes and no fires caused by lightning.

What kept the Cabot firefighters busier than anything else in 2011 was assisting with medical calls. In 2011, that number was 1,732 compared to 1,725 in 2010.