The year 2011 will most likely be remembered as an eventful one for the Hellertown Police Department.
On Jan. 17, in front of Borough Council, police chief Robert Shupp read highlights from his 2011 end-of-year report and discussed other recent police-related news.
Shupp said the department received more than 5,800 calls in 2011 and investigated 332 crimes that resulted in arrests. There was a slight increase in domestic violence arrests last year, which he said might be attributable to the poor state of the economy.
He noted that the department's case closure rate for the year was above 80 percent, which he called "outstanding." The national average case closure rate among police departments is just 47 percent, he said.
Shupp also highlighted the fact that the department's average response time to incidents in 2011 was less than three minutes, which he said is less than the national average.
Response times remained low in spite of an increase in traffic in Hellertown, which he said "appears to be a yearly thing."
One of the most significant cases officers worked on in 2011 resulted in the bust of an alleged meth lab on Main Street in August, Shupp said.
"(The bust) was a culmination of many, many months (and) many man hours of work," he told council.
Other department specific highlights in 2011 included: participation in the Saucon Valley Halloween Parade; delivery of a presentation about detecting fraud and identity theft at KNBT; delivery of a presentation on Trick-or-Treat safety at the Hellertown Area Public Library; the introduction of two new "black-and-white" police cruisers; the purchase and introduction of new Glock service weapons, which Shupp said replaced guns that had been in use since 1999; and the introduction of Tasers, which are now carried by borough officers.
Although a Taser has not yet been fired in the line of duty by a borough officer, Shupp said he's seen how impactful simply displaying the device can be.
"We have pulled them out," he told council, adding that unruly individuals typically become compliant once they see the Taser.
Shupp concluded his update on the end-of-year report by announcing to council that the department-led Block Watch group will resume its regular meeting schedule later this winter.
The group will be led by Officer Tim Piotrowski, who has stepped in to fill the shoes of former block watch leader Officer Jim DeLeone. DeLeone announced in November that he would be stepping down as leader of the group, which meets on a bimonthly basis at Borough Hall.