Fort Wayne police and fire departments Tuesday issued a joint release outlining initiatives for the new year, including FWPD's goal of adding 100 body cameras to an existing 20.
In order to maintain the department at 480 sworn officers, FWPD will hold a 21st Lateral Class this year, hiring officers certified through other law enforcement agencies, the Tuesday release said. Currently, the department has 468 sworn officers, according to Sofia Rosales-Scatena, FWPD public information spokesperson.
Two new social workers are budgeted for FWPD's Hope and Recovery Team known as HART that visits people who overdosed on drugs. And there are plans to expand FWPD's partnership with Fort Wayne United's TenPoint Coalition, an initiative targeting certain high crime areas with citizen patrols.
Fort Wayne Fire Department employees will also be participating in the United Front Initiative, according to the release and Fire Chief Eric Lahey.
The fire department will put two more replacement engines into service and hold the 92nd recruit class as well as starting construction on the next phase of the Live Burn Center.
While service calls were down from about 158,000 in 2019 compared to 137,000 in 2020, hours of training were up.
In 2019, FWPD officers put in 35,939 hours of training; in 2020, the total was more than 41,000. Training includes specialty teams training and training for lateral officers hired in as well as firearms, among other training opportunities, according to an FWPD 2019 annual report.
Service calls were most likely down because of the pandemic shutdowns, Rosales-Scatena said. “Less people out and about means less traffic stops, less crashes, etc.,” she added.
The FWPD had several data points prepared. The department seized more than 700 firearms, 146 of those by the Gang and Violent Crimes Unit. In a Journal Gazette article published Dec. 8, 2019, the total number of seized guns was 312, up from 226 in 2018.
Overall crime was down 13% from 2019, although the homicide rate went up. However, the clearance rate for the second year in a row was higher than 80%.
The gang unit conducted 24 raids, the same number in 2019, Deputy Chief James Feasel said in a text message.
The homicide effort was beefed up by the addition of two detectives bringing the staff up to 10 homicide detectives and adding the assistance of Lt. John Bowers, brought in from the Vice and Narcotics Unit, Feasel added.