Falls crime rate is lower for fifth consecutive year
Police Department continues proactive approach
Menomonee Falls - It is not uncommon to see a police vehicle when driving down main thoroughfares in Menomonee Falls. In fact, it happens for a reason.
When Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski took her post as head of the department in October 2007, she stressed the importance of a visible police presence in the community.
That presence is one of many reasons attributed to a decrease in crime within the village for the fifth consecutive year.
Total crime in 2012 was down 9 percent.
Total crime has decreased in the village by 53 percent since 2007. What's referred to as "part one" crimes, such as homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and theft, decreased by 10 percent in 2012. In five years, "part one" crimes decreased by 33 percent.
"Part two" crimes, such as vandalism, weapon violations, fraud and loitering, decreased by 8 percent in 2012.
Ruzinski attributes the lower crime rate to the hard work of the men and women in the Police Department, combined with the assistance of residents.
Being vigilant about maintaining a strong police presence is an important crime deterrent in the village as the Police Department is fully aware that their community is next door to an urban area.
"We want to maintain a presence so we can let the criminal know, 'you're not welcome here,' " Ruzinski said. "We're pretty vigilant about doing that."
A healthy atmosphere
Though the stats show a trend in decreasing crime, the numbers are not a huge focal point in Menomonee Falls. More important is the overall feeling of the community and keeping a healthy relationship with its residents.
"I look more at what I'm hearing from the citizens, how safe they feel, those are the things that are important," Ruzinski said. "We get far more complimentary messages from citizens in regards to the officers, which is what we want. We want to create that atmosphere where we can talk to citizens and have citizens be a part of the solution and that seems to be working."
A decrease in crimes such as theft and vandalism has allowed for officers to focus their efforts on enforcement of crimes that can sometimes be overlooked.
"The nice thing about that is when we have some of these crimes so low, we can start to work proactively on some other things," Ruzinski said.
Most recently, one group of officers is diligently enforcing handicap parking laws to make sure those who need those spaces are the ones using them.
Twice officers caught shoplifters in progress as they were issuing parking tickets to vehicles illegally parked in handicap stalls. The shoplifters were the ones illegally parked, Ruzinski said.
Being proactive is key. Before "active shooter" became an all-too familiar phrase, especially after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., the police department held an active shooters training for administrators within the Menomonee Falls School District. Taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness is integral to the Police Department.
"The Menomonee Falls Police Department and the police chief have been very proactive in planning with us for our needs in the case of an emergency. We have a strong relationship naturally with our police liaison officers," Superintendent Patricia Greco said. "And, all of the department, has been very responsive with respect to our partnership in crisis intervention planning."
Ruzinski said they are continuously going over the district's crisis plans, putting children's safety as a major priority.
"Chief Ruzinski is assisting our teams in keeping all of our procedures current and we continue to refine the support to ensure we are doing everything possible to be proactive," Greco said. "Our leadership team and our school personnel feel a strong partnership."
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