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The original item was published from 2/17/2016 6:17:00 PM to 2/17/2016 6:17:58 PM.

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Danville, VA Local Government News and Announcements

Posted on: February 17, 2016

[ARCHIVED] City Council authorizes additional police officers

City Council meeting (file photo)

City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize four additional sworn police officer positions. The gain of four positions would add one officer to each shift.

The added number of sworn officers is one of the crime reduction strategies that Police Chief
Philip Broadfoot presented earlier this month during City Council’s work session. During work sessions, City Council reviews non-routine matters that may be voted upon in future business sessions.

With the vote last night, The City will move from 131 to 135 sworn police officer positions.

Broadfoot told Council members earlier this month that the additional officers would not require an increase in payroll because officer attrition annually leaves the department with unspent money for wages and benefits. Adding four officers, however, could eliminate future surpluses, he said.

Council members agreed the lack of future surpluses would not present a problem.

Danville’s violent crime rates are trending downward over the last 10 years, but City Council members are concerned that the rates remain too high.

Broadfoot earlier this month outlined several steps to address those concerns. Those steps include hiring an additional four officers, reestablishing the street crimes unit but using a modified approach, and hiring an animal control officer for evening shifts to relieve police officers of that duty.

Broadfoot also said the department will hire a crime analyst – a position he believes will play a major role in crime reduction. The position is grant funded.

The Police Department first established a street crimes unit on Nov. 1, 2010, as part of a multifaceted initiative called “Safe & Sound Neighborhoods.” The initiative was designed to stabilize the troubled north-central area of Danville. Though there were homes in this area well maintained, stable and owner-occupied as much as any in the city, there were pockets of blight. What was more disturbing in this area, however, were the number of homicides – 13 in nearly five years.

The street crimes unit was designed to be proactive, with officers working as a team on nights and weekends. The officers were tasked not with only being visible but to make themselves known to citizens.

The unit later moved to other neighborhoods as needed, and then phased out.

The hiring of an animal control officer for evening shifts is needed, Broadfoot said, because officers now must answer those calls. He said animal control calls take officers away from their primary tasks.

Broadfoot reported the number of incidents for murder, robbery, abduction, aggravated assault and simple assault fluctuate from year-to-year, but they are trending downward in the past 10 years.

Ten-year trends for burglary, larceny, vandalism and weapons law also are on a downward path.
When the Virginia State Police released its annual report last summer, however, Danville held the second highest criminal incident rate among Virginia cities – despite a decline in Danville’s crime rate from the previous year.

City Council asked Broadfoot to develop crime reduction strategies in response, in part, to the report, but also to a spike in drive-by shootings seen in November and December.

In other action Tuesday, Council voted to:

• change the rules of procedures to establish time limits for speakers during public hearings.
• enter into an agreement to purchase power from a renewable peaking generation facility to be built within the Danville Utilities service territory. A developer will build the solar farm. The solar project would supply 6 megawatts or 1.5 percent of Danville's annual generation. The City will not be responsible for maintaining or financing the project, but must purchase the facility's generation output. Transmission charges will be lower because of the solar farm’s location within the area.

Council's meeting included a business session followed by a work session. In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings.

In Tuesday’s work session, four items were on the agenda:

• presentation on maintenance of city-owned buildings and capital improvement needs for the upcoming budget and beyond,
• presentation of the Parks and Recreation Department’s master plan,
• discussion of a master lease financing option for economic development project
• monthly review of financial statements.

River City TV airs live all Council business sessions. The first rebroadcast will be at 8 p.m. Thursday. Watch it on cable (Comcast channel 10 and Gamewood channel 122) or streaming at The taped broadcast is available now on the City’s YouTube channel -- DanvilleVAGov.

River City TV does not air work sessions, but they are open to the public.

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