Police officers in the county’s fastest growing town are being called to check on broken down vehicles, for help when a resident locks their keys in the car and to make sure an elderly neighbor is OK.
As more people have moved in, the Bargersville Police Department has felt the impact in more calls for police officers.
But while accidents, fires and burglaries still are just as common, the bigger increase has come in calls for service. More subdivisions and residents means more nonemergency calls, such as residents reporting a phone scam or an alarm going off, investigator Steve Byerly said.
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And sometimes, those calls may take more time to respond to if police are dealing with an emergency, officials said.
In the past six years, the town’s population has grown by more than 70 percent, which is partially due to annexations in 2010 that brought in more than 2,000 new residents at once. And three new neighborhoods have been approved that will add more than 700 new homes in the next several years.
The police calls are a key indicator of a rapidly growing Bargersville. Since the beginning of this year, Bargersville police have responded to about 2,000 calls to 911. In 2013, the department received a little more than 3,500 total calls for the entire year.
Police departments determine the number of officers needed to serve a town or city based on the population, Bargersville Police Chief Judd Green said. But in Bargersville, the number of officers needed would be better determined based on the amount of calls to police, Green said.
Including Green and Byerly, the department has 12 full-time officers and six reserves. Police are still getting to emergencies in minutes, but if a wreck or some other call requires more than one officer, police may not be able to immediately respond to a service call, they said.
In some instances, officers have had to respond to runs based on urgency, Byerly said. For example, if an officer is at a home taking a report of vandalism or a car break-in that happened the night before, that officer might have to leave to assist with an emergency, Byerly said.
Byerly was first hired as a part-time detective, but as the population continued to increase, so did the amount of cases he was investigating each week. He now handles 26 to 30 cases per week, and works full-time to keep up with the caseload, Byerly said.
“We are probably working with a two-detective caseload,” Byerly said. “And I don’t know how we get it done considering how many people we have. It amazes me, sometimes, with our size, we get stretched pretty thin.”
The town needs more officers, Green said.
“We’re busy. We have seen our calls for public service go up as the population increases,” Green said. “To make sure we meet the need, we have to add officers. Keeping up is better than catching up.”
Green wants to hire two new officers by the end of this year or the beginning of 2017, and two more by the beginning of 2018, Green said. But between hiring the officers and then training them at the academy and with the department, it could be close to two years until the new hire is ready to patrol alone, Green said.
And he still needs approval from the town council to hire the officers, Green said.