Mar-Mac Police Department releases 2020 annual report

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

Mar-Mac Police Chief Robert Millin recently shared the law enforcement district’s 2020 annual report, giving a “behind the scenes” look at the department, its personnel, daily activities, comparisons to previous years and more.

Over the past year, Millin said the department has experienced a significant upgrade and improvements to achieve the agency’s original values, goal and mission.

“As we continue to improve, I also reviewed the department’s activity over the past couple years. In doing so, I am confident in providing the most accurate representation of the department’s police activities,” he stated. “While reviewing previous years’ activities, data entries were inaccurately categorized or missing. Through research, this data was added, categorized or merged to provide the most accurate representation of our activities.”

The latest U.S. Census records place McGregor’s and Marquette’s combined population at 1,246 people. However, due to the police district’s geographic location, in close proximity to Prairie du Chien, Wis., local employers, tourist attractions and a state and federal highway, that population swells each day, Millin noted.

For example, U.S. Highway 18 in Marquette has a daily traffic count of 5,514 vehicles, according to 2017 Iowa DOT statistics. For State Highway 76 coming into Marquette, the count was 3,384. In McGregor, just over 2,500 vehicles enter the community each day from State Highway 76, while another 1,400 arrive via Walton Street.

In 2020, the Mar-Mac Police had 1,866 calls for service, which was a drop from 2,085 in 2019. Millin acknowledged that COVID-19 contributed to the decrease. Since March, officers have practiced precautions to prevent infection. 

However, the latest totals also more accurately reflect the department’s activities, thanks to the reprogramming of its records management software (RMS). Under this reprogramming, the majority of the de-classification of police activity was administrative activities that were previously assigned a case number. Examples include meetings, report writing, court appearances and returning phone calls.

“As a result, the calls for service dropped compared to the previous year. This decrease does not show a decrease in police activity,” Millin stressed. 

Of 2020’s calls, 1,794 were related to patrol and/or investigation, what Millin called the operational duties of the Mar-Mac Police.

Last year, Marquette had more calls for service, at 810, compared to 604 for McGregor. The department also responded to 452 calls for service outside the 3.11-square-mile area officials normally patrol. According to the annual report, the most frequent calls for service outside the coverage area were for assisting other agencies or due to the location of a traffic stop after a violation occurred within city limits.

There was also a decrease in incident reports over the past year, with 58 generated in 2020, compared to 69 in 2019. An incident report is generated when a crime has occurred or when a call for service requires additional specific information.

The top categorized incident reports included operating while under the influence, domestic abuse/assault, theft, drug related and death investigation.

In 2020, the Mar-Mac Police made 41 arrests, resulting in 57 charges, and filed 49 total criminal complaints. That’s down from the previous year, when 54 arrests were made, resulting in 79 charges. Sixty-seven criminal complaints were filed in 2019.

Mar-Mac officers initiate traffic stops for those who violate traffic laws or have vehicles with defective equipment. In 2020, those stops resulted in 345 warnings and 123 citations. That’s a change from 2019, when 506 warnings and 155 citations were issued. Millin said the noted warnings do not include verbal warnings.

The department had 37 total accident reports last year, up from 30 in 2019.  In the event of a motor vehicle accident, the Mar-Mac Police Department will investigate and submit an accident report if the following criteria is met: total estimated damage is greater than $1,500, a person is injured or has died or the accident occurred on a public roadway.

In his report, Millin also referenced some changes in the department’s training and communication systems. On the communications end, Mar-Mac Police, through budgetary and grant funding, was able to purchase new Motorola APX 8500 radios for the patrol vehicles. 

“These radios not only improved the department’s technological ability to communicate with local and surrounding public safety agencies, but also provide the officers with the capability to access ISICS,” said Millin. ISICS, or the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System, is a statewide radio platform that provides microwave-based radio communication to public safety agencies and others from border to border in Iowa, improving public safety across the state.

In 2020, the police department also began providing monthly online training to all officers through Police Legal Sciences, Inc. (PLS). Course topics included legislative and case law updates, police-prosecutor relations, bias prevention and de-escalation.

“Iowa Code section 80B.11G now requires Iowa peace officers to have annual training on bias prevention and de-escalation,” the report stated. “To help officers satisfy these requirements, PLS released a lesson on working with diverse communities and an implicit bias lesson.”

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