DWI arrests double, other serious crimes drop

Chief: Officers more aggressive on roads
Feb. 23, 2013 @ 07:27 AM

Felonies in Granite Falls were down sharply in 2012 from the previous year, though nearly the same number of people were arrested, but police doubled the number of arrests made for driving while impaired, the Granite Falls Police Department's annual report shows.

Police Chief Ritch Bolick downplays the importance of a single year's numbers, but he said the data reflects the difference officers are making in public safety for the county’s fourth most-populous municipality.

The doubling of DWI arrests, from 27 in 2011 to 55 in 2012, coincided with an almost tripling in the number of police checkpoints -- from 25 in 2011 to 69 in 2012 -- but Bolick said there wasn't a correlation between the checkpoints and the arrests.

“I don’t feel like that (checkpoints) was the direct result of the increased DWIs, but I do feel like they increased awareness and compliance in seat belt usage and compliance with license requirement and restrictions,” Bolick said. “I feel like the DWI numbers were a result of the level of training the officers are receiving, becoming more knowledgeable and aware of what to look for, and the more aggressive approach they have taken in criminal interdiction on our roadways.”

While the number of felony charges filed dropped by nearly half, from 117 in 2011 to 69 in 2012, the number of people arrested on felony charges didn't change much, dropping from 48 to 46.

Also showing a decrease from 2011 was the number of reported traffic accidents, from 311 to 246.

The number of people cited for less serious crimes citations rose by about 36 percent, from 702 to 960, and the total number of charges those people faced increased 35 percent, from 1,002 to 1,350.

Officers also assisted with the American Legion State Baseball Tournament, held at M.S. Deal Stadium over the summer. Officers also helped with special events throughout the year, including mutual aid to Appalachian State University home football games and annual town events drawing large crowds.

Bolick is most proud of the dedication his officers show, and the level of training they endure to become better at their jobs.

“Numbers cannot show the amount of heart or dedication that our officers put in to their profession each day,” Bolick said. “We report the numbers and take them at face value but what I’m more proud of is the fact that our officers are making a difference in the lives of those they come in contact with each day.”