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Summer changes Iowa City police patrols

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | MAY 12, 2009 7:30 AM

The traditional increase in crime that comes with warmer weather may be offset in Iowa City as students leave campus after finals, authorities said.

Iowa City police generally receive fewer calls for service in downtown when the student population decreases during the summer months, Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said.

Weather also affects the minimum number of officers required to be on duty. Though local residents may see fewer officers downtown in the summer, the percentage of total officers assigned to that area remains constant.

“The allocation of resources stays the same,” Kelsay said. “But we diminish the number of resources.”

The four overtime officers — two from Iowa City and two from UI police — who have patrolled the Pedestrian Mall in recent weeks to address issues of violence will no longer patrol the area when the spring semester ends, officials said.

“We can’t sustain those numbers of patrols now, unless something changes,” Kelsay said, citing budget issues.

Iowa City police may receive a $193,000 federal grant, part of which would be used to pay overtime officers in the future, though officials said they aren’t sure when that money will come through.

Crime statistics from Iowa City police show no significant increase in arrests during the summer months, but the distribution of arrests changes.

Police receive more reports of prowlers and burglaries during warmer months, Kelsay said. And while most late-night calls for service generally come from downtown, police are sent all over the city.

“You lose that downtown concentration,” Kelsay said. “The number of people go down in the community, but calls for service spread through the community instead of being university driven.”

According to Iowa City police reports, the number of PAULAs written and the number of bar checks performed decrease significantly during June and July. Kelsay said he would expect numbers of drinking tickets to decrease as students leave the city.

UI police also deal with fewer alcohol offenses during the summer months, said UI police records clerk Patsy Porter, though no specific numbers were immediately available. The total numbers of arrests also fall, she said.

Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, said his department doesn’t change its patrols during the summer. With up to 10,000 students on campus for summer classes and camps at the UI, their officers stay busy, and the same number of officers work each shift, he said.

The last two summers in Iowa City have featured a series of attacks on women by a man, or small group of men. In previous years, the attacks stopped during the winter and resumed during the summer months.

But police said those attacks have stopped since an arrest last year, and they don’t expect that to change.


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