The number of arrests rose significantly in 2011 in East Hampton Town, according to an annual report released by the East Hampton Town Police Department last week.
Total calls for police assistance rose by 11 percent to a five-year high of 18,148. This number, however, includes all calls, from criminal complaints to a report of a cat stuck up a tree, Chief Edward Ecker said on Monday.
More telling is the category “penal arrests,” which rose 22 percent to a five-year high of 388. The records released go back only five years.
Part of the increase is related to enhanced police technique, particularly in the detective squad. “Last year, we had a lot more proactive investigations,” Chief Ecker said. “We’ve expanded. We’ve added a detective sergeant.”
Another noticeable area of change was in parking enforcement: Traffic control officers were busy, writing 6,180 summonses, another five-year high.
“It’s a one-year thing,” the chief said, explaining that the return rate from the previous year of the younger, seasonally employed T.C.O.s is crucial to strong enforcement. “Last year, we had a very good nucleus of workers. They hit the ground running.”
Chief Ecker also pointed out that writing parking tickets wasn’t the only way in which the Police Department uses traffic control officers.
“People don’t realize how much they do,” he said. “Triathlons, marathons, at least eight smaller road races, library fairs.” Being able to rely on this squad frees town officers to focus on other police activities.
One area where there was a decrease was in driving while intoxicated arrests, which, at 156, were at a five-year low. There were a variety of reasons for the drop. “We had 11 people out last year. We were working with a skeleton crew.”
One of those out was Officer Vincent Rantinella, who was recently awarded a “top cop” award for his work against drunken driving. The officer was in a crash in February 2011 in which the other driver, who was drunk, was going the wrong way on an exit ramp. Officer Rantinella returned to duty earlier this year.
The department has increased its efforts against drunken driving. “We’ve changed it up this year. We’re up about 20” arrests for driving while intoxicated as opposed to last year at this time, he said.