by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
The Sanibel Police Department experienced a record-breaking number of total calls for service last year, as a record number of vehicles crossed the Sanibel Causeway. The increase in visitors drove many of the changes in the analysis released this week by the department.
The total number of calls for service at 73,821 was up 10 percent compared to 67,371 calls in 2020. Last year was a 54 percent increase compared to the five-year average and is the first time in a decade the number of calls reached more than 70,000.
Total calls for service includes every criminal report, ordinance violation, arrest, and self-initiated proactive area check by officers. The number also includes 911 calls.
“The total calls reflects our officers are out in the community proactively checking neighborhoods, businesses, resorts and city property,” said Police Chief Bill Dalton. “This creates a police presence in the community and helps keep crime down across the board.”
Non-federal crimes, such as trespass, drug violations, driving under the influence, criminal traffic violations, criminal mischief and harassment, as well as ordinance violations, were up 28 percent, from the five-year average of 713 to 910 last year.
There was a significant increase in DUI arrests, which were up 50 percent from the five-year average of 18 to 27 in 2021. But there was a substantial decrease in drug arrests last year, down 29 percent from the five-year average of 17 to 12. There was also a decrease in the number of vehicle accidents last year, from the five-year average of 164 to 158.
Observed ordinance violations increased from 332 in a five-year average to 501 in 2021, a 51 percent increase. Violations were primarily beach diminishment, noise violations and manatee zone infractions. These statistics provide another barometer for evaluating trends and helps guide staff deployment.
Federal crimes, such as burglary, theft and assault, were up by 7 percent overall from the five-year average of 71 to 76 in 2021. Vehicle thefts were up from one in 2020 to two last year and burglaries were down by 44 percent, from the five-year average of 16 to 9 in 2021. There was a 2 percent increase in thefts, up from the five-year average of 43 to 44 last year.
Similar to past years, 51 percent of those arrested last year were from the greater Lee County area and 19 percent from Sanibel. Twelve percent were from Florida and 19 percent from out of sate. There were no arrests of non-United States citizens.
The police department continues to encourage crime prevention through education, awareness, press releases and promoting security cameras at resorts. Chief Dalton said the department “is committed to keeping Sanibel a safe community to live, work and visit.”
NOTE: Due to the panedmic, the analysis of reports from 2019 and 2020 differed significantly from previous years. The five-year average, from 2016 to 2020, was compared to last year’s averages for a more normal comparison.