POV FIRST and EXCLUSIVE: Chief David Todd shares what concerns him most about 2016 crime stats in Fargo

Fargo Police Chief David Todd spoke with us about the recent report on the city's 2016 crime stats, and what concerns him the most.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg:
Fargo Police Department released their annual report. Fargo Police Chief David Todd joins us. Great to have you here. Thanks for spending time with us.

Chief David Todd:
Thanks for having me.

CB:
Let's talk about the overall report and some of the stats. I think most importantly the people of Fargo want to hear what jumped out to you the most from this report?

DT:
Well, certainly we're always disappointed when our part one crimes go up, those are the more serious crimes, such as homicide. Which that one stayed even, but sexual assault, robberies, burglaries, we saw increase, about a 14% increase in the total of those part one crimes. The other section of crime is what we call part 2 crimes, that's the lesser crimes, misdemeanor, simple assault, criminal mischief, which is vandalism, theft, and those are the misdemeanor crimes, we saw a decrease in those crimes.

CB:
Just to give people context in the numbers, part one, part two, total offenses over all, up 3 percent. Let’s talk about part one crime. You said they're more serious. What do you attribute the 14% increase to?

DT:
Well, I think it's a growing city and a police department that's trying to grow with the city. Any time you've got a community with a good economy like we do in Fargo, it attracts people to come and live here and we're seeing, I believe, 3200 to 3500 people moving here per year. Most of the -- the vast majority of those people are good people, looking for communities. But also there's a criminal element that comes with that. And want to take advantage of the good economy.

CB:
Let’s move on to this. Let’s bring up the robbery versus burglary. These are the stats, changed from 2015 to 2016, robberies up 30 percent, burglaries down. Give people the distinction between robbery and burglary.

DT:
A robbery is a person on person crime.so if I come up to you and I have a gun or knife and I said give me your money, that's an armed robbery. If I forcefully take your money away from you without a weapon, that's a strong arm robbery. That’s a robbery. Now, if you're gone on vacation and I break into your home and steal things from your home, that's a burglary.

CB:
30% increase in robbery, that sounds more serious to me than burglary. What do you attribute a 30% increase to?

DT:
Right, those numbers certainly concern me. Some of them are convenience store robberies, or liqueur store. And some of them are person on person, transient things that happen in the downtown area. You’ve got to keep in mind when you see a large percentage, you've got to look at the numbers. Are they smaller numbers -- an increase in similar numbers, which means a larger percentage. This would be 69 robberies this last year as compared to 53 the year before. But it's still concerning.so, you know, we're going to pay attention to that.

CB:
Want to bring up one more graphic here, talk in a bigger context. Vehicle theft which to me seems a very serious theft, up 14%.all other thefts up 40%.i want to hear what you attribute these numbers to, but also what I understand, Chief, is that when you look at the opioid crisis in our community, this addiction becomes so strong and so rampant to people that they're willing to go rob people, steal things.is that part of what you attribute these numbers to?

DT:
Let's talk about the vehicle theft. That’s up 14%.the vast majority of the vehicles stolen are left running and unlocked by people. That’s the vast majority of the vehicles that we have stolen. The theft, or the other thefts up 40%, that's usually crimes of opportunity. If I see something laying in the yard and take that or run into a garage and take a golf bag. Those are thefts of opportunity. I think that a lot of these crimes of opportunity, specifically theft, are addiction-driven. I think probably 75% of them are somehow related to addiction. Because we're seeing a lot of these items turn up in pawn shops right away where the person is getting money or trading the items for drugs.

CB:
One other thing, good news, especially the kind of brand that Fargo and North Dakota has. DUI arrests down 16%.

DT:
Yes.

CB:
Because?

DT:
Well, I think there's a number of things that are attributed to that. I think there's some education and prevention that is slowly starting to take effect. And people are becoming more cognizant of what the issues of drunk driving are. I also think there's more methods of public transportation. There’s more taxi services in Fargo than we've had before and Uber. There's a lot more cars left in the parking lot at liquor establishments and we didn't see that before. Anecdotally, when he was working new year's eve, which is usually fight after fight after fight after the bars close, it was quiet. I sat and watched where there were three liquor establishments and there were uber cars and tax is everywhere and people are getting into that alternative transportation and leaving right away and not having a chance to get into conflicts.

CB:
That is good news. Let's talk about the future, 2017. As you look at these numbers in this report and you go, okay, we need to focus on this in 2017 to improve, what would that be?

DT:
Over all last year we had a 3% increase in crime for 2016.so I want to continue to pursue something we just started last year, and that's our intelligence-led policing model where we have an intelligence meeting every Thursday of the week, and we focus on individuals that are committing crimes in our community. And if they've got warrants, we specifically go after them as quickly as possible.it also gives our detectives somebody to focus on if there are certain crimes being committed and evidence is leading us in that direction.so it kind of gets us all on the same page and hopefully go after the people causing issues.

CB:
Thank you for being here and thanks for all you do.

DT:
Thank you.

CB:
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