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AURORA -- Last year saw a rise in a number of crime statistics in Aurora, according to Police Chief Brian Byard's annual report.
For example, thefts rose from 132 in 2015 to 200 in 2016, while burglaries numbered four compared to none in 2015. Fraud / identify theft, vandalism / criminal mischief, drug abuse, disorderly conduct, suicide attempts or threats and missing / runaway juveniles also were up.
Byard reported that three adults in town died of drug overdoses. The department hosted a well-attended drug forum at Aurora High.
Officers filed 1,243 reports last year, compared to 901 in 2015. Total calls handled by officers rose from 20,037 to 22,971 and dispatch activity rose from 20,736 to 23,676 calls.
Forty adults were charged with theft, compared to 28 in 2015, and overall criminal arrests rose from 220 in 2015 to 273 in 2016.
Officers investigated 237 traffic accidents last year, compared to 188 in 2015. Forty-nine accidents resulted in injuries. There was one fatal accident in 2016.
Traffic citations numbered 866, compared to 523 in 2015 and total traffic stops were up from 3,259 to 3,776.
Juvenile arrests rose from 46 to 75. The 2016 figures include 38 juveniles cited for traffic offenses and 37 determined to be unruly.
The city received $31,186 in fines from Portage County courts, compared to $27,361 in 2015. Dispatchers were involved in collecting $25,184, which included $1,763 in city funds and $23,421 in court funds.
Aurora issued 80 deer hutning permits in 2016, including six for hunting on city property. Deer kills totaled five on private property and three on city property.
According to Byard, 2016 brought several changes and accomplishments for the police department, including new hires, building and equipment upgrades and undertaking dispatching responsibilities for four neighboring agencies.
In lieu of the state's efforts to reduce Public Safety Answering Points in Portage County, Aurora managed to hang on to its dispatch center, and now handles dispatching for Hiram police and fire, Community EMS and the Garrettsville Fire Department.
Four part-time dispatchers were added to support the increased call volume brought on by handling dispatching for the other agencies. Aurora has a new next-gen 911 system and will transition to MARCS radio digital format.
Officer Michelle Rizzo retired after 27 years of service in Aurora, and Andrew Scott, Tony Tritto and Brandon Dreger were hired as new officers.
The city's PD hosted one high school intern and two college interns from the University of Cincinnati. Building improvements included a new heating-air conditioning system, carpeting and gutter warmers, plus some painting.
The department conducted the annual Bike Rodeo, Fill A Cruiser and Shop with a Cop programs, plus participated in Truck and Tractor Day, None for Under 21, Safety Town, the Aurora Community Showcase, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over kickoff, Vehicle Day at Miller School and the Child ID and Fingerprint program.
Staff members gave several informational speeches on fraud, crimes against the elderly and crime patterns to assisted living facilities and private organizations.
Byard reported officers investigated several cases of counterfeit money being used at businesses. Residents also were hit with several internet scams, and the detective bureau secured the forfeiture of more than $3,000 of new clothing, cosmetics and toys, which were donated to the Volunteers of American.
Byard said several persons were exonerated from false sexual conduct allegations, and several confessions were obtained from several people who committed sex crimes.
The department's two school resource officers reported they have seen a rise in social media-related incidents, including bullying and inappropriate conversation.
Park ranger Sam Colmery reported hot summer weather seemed to limit the flow of visitors to park properties. He said only a small number of people played the new disc golf course at Sunny Lake because of the heat and presence of mosquitoes and deer flies.
He also reported Sunny Lake experienced several car break-ins on two occasions. He reminds visitors to lock their vehicles and be more vigilant in watching their surroundings.
As for department awards, officer Dan Kalk was a Crisis Intervention Team officer of the year in Portage County, and the APD received a AAA Community Safety bronze medal for its traffic safety efforts and became one of only three agencies in Portage County to receive certification through the state's Collaborative Board Certification process.
The APD participated in the AAA Helmet Smart program, and one child from Aurora was the winner of a new bicycle through that program.