SUWANEE -- Arrests and calls for service continued to drop in April, while speeding citations spiked for the second straight month, according to figures released this week by the Suwanee Police Department.
When compared to April, 2011 arrests have dipped by more than 25 percent. But the SPD reported speeding citations rose by more than 200 percent compared to 2011. In April, Suwanee police made 165 speeding citations, which brought the year-to-date total to 440. There were 58 arrests in April, which made the year-to-date total 227, down 76 from the same period a year ago.
Calls for service were down 20.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
Chief Mike Jones said the department has two officer vacancies, which could explain why some categories rise or fall, but there are too many variables to draw a simple conclusion to the statistics. In the last year, Jones said the department once had five vacancies.
Jones hired three officers earlier this year, but they are still in training or enrolled in the police academy.
"We're not going to hire people just to hire them; we're looking for the best qualified people we can find," Jones said. "They have to meet certain standards."
The only seasonal surges Jones said the city experiences are shoplifting around the holidays, and misdemeanor trespassing and vandalism in the summer.
Construction thefts, which are generally tied to building activity and the housing market, have gone down in the last five years, Jones said.
"We are beginning to have more construction, so that might be something we begin to watch for," he said.
The service delivery dispute agreement that was settled in February and allowed radar to return in March isn't a direct correlation to the spike in speeding citations, Jones said. Radar is a safer tool police use to monitor traffic flow, he said.
"I'd much have them on the side of the road doing that, slowing people down, than my officers try to sit in a congested area, and pull out and try to catch them for following too close, wreckless driving or making improper lane changes," Jones said.
Officers are placed in what Jones called "high accident areas, where we need them, when we need them" along Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, and near Interstate 85 and Satellite Boulevard.
Jones said he's proud that the city hasn't recorded a fatality yet this year, and DUI arrests are down across the board. There were just four DUI arrests in April, and 22 for the year, compared with 18 and 61 for the same periods last year.