Data presentation highlights falling crime, ambulance response times

By Douglas McCulloch | Jan 22, 2018

Crime is down, the town’s new vehicle fleet is saving gas, and ambulance response times are improving.

Those are some of the highlights from the end-of-the-year DartStat report. The town teams up with the University of Massachusetts Boston to collect and analyze data on a variety of town services and programs through DartStat. The goal is to use the data to improve efficiency in town government.

The report noted that in 2017, crime fell by 4.84 percent overall. Reports went from 2,361 in 2016 to 2,252 in 2017.

Crime data was divided into four categories. Overall crimes against persons fell by six percent. Crimes against persons includes crimes such as kidnapping, rape, assault, and statutory rape.

The largest crime in that category was simple assault, which fell by four reports from 204 in 2016 to 200 in 2017. Intimidation was down from 127 to 117, and kidnapping went from nine cases in 2016 to only one in 2017. The only crime included in this section with an increase was forcible fondling, from one case in 2016 to three in 2017.

Crimes against society increased by 26 percent from 2016, although the number of crimes reported was much smaller than crimes against persons. Drug and narcotics violations are up, from 38 instances in 2016 to 43 in 2017. Other areas measured in crimes against society included pornography/obscene materials, prostitution, and weapon law violations. Under ten instances of each were reported.

In Group B crimes, which include miscellaneous crimes, reports increased by six percent. Driving under the influence cases fell by 30 percent to 35; liquor law violations are also down from 22 to 12; trespassing increased by 83 percent to 22; and “all other offenses” rose from 402 to 457.

For the first time, DartStat collected data on STAT Ambulance services and response times to see how close the numbers come to what the service is contractually required to provide.

“Until the last contract there was never any criteria as to what the response times should be,” said Town Administrator David Cressman. “This is the first time that this was done, and it was done largely through the initiative of Chief Szala and myself at that time.”

The results from March to December 2017 showed District No. 3 is the busiest in terms of medical calls, with an average volume of ten calls per day, hovering around 350 calls a month. District No. 1 averages five calls per day. District 2 receives a total of 25 calls per month.

“I think this gives us a sense of what’s going on,” Cressman said. “It could set a baseline for the town to start having further discussions.”

The report also analyzed “shute time,” defined as the time between a 911 call being received and an ambulance responding. From March to May the time was between 52 seconds and 2 minutes. Times dropped off to around one minute after that point.

Overall, the average en-route response time for “priority one” calls - the most serious - was 5:46.

Times for priority one and two calls should not exceed eight minutes and a monthly average of six minutes. Priority three calls were just above 7:15. The limit is 20 minutes and an average of 15 minutes.

Also new to the report this year is measures of fuel efficiency and mileage of town-owned vehicles. The report divided it into departments, from the highway department to the Board of Health, from October to December.

The top fuel-efficient departments are also ones which use the town’s fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles. The Building Department scored the highest, averaging 37.52 miles per gallon. The Board of Health averaged 24.28; Select Board, 33.3; and Animal Control, 12.23.

“Hopefully the Select Board and Finance Committee can use this, as well as the Capital Improvements Committee, at raising the issue of how can we make the fleet more fuel efficient,” Cressman said.

Other data sets to note: in the Department of Public Works, all but three of ten departments have not had a work-related injury in 100 days. Solar permits have continued a downward trend. Since reaching a peak of 416 in fiscal year 2016, it fell to 168 in 2017 and 53 in 2018, although the fiscal year is not yet over.

The report also provided an update on several major road projects in Dartmouth. The Padanaram causeway and bridge project is set to be complete in the spring of 2018.

Engineering has been reinstated for the planned relocation of Tucker Road, which would move the Tucker Road/Route 6 intersection to line up with Hathaway.

A grant-funded reconstruction of Rogers Street from Dartmouth Street to Clarks Cove will include updated sidewalks.

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