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Chief: Crime rate on rise in Wells area

By Staff | Nov 1, 2010

Jim Ratelle

Tough economic conditions have not only impacted city budgets, it’s one reason the Wells Police Department has seen a spike in some crimes.

That was the message Police Chief Jim Ratelle delivered to the City Council on Monday.

Ratelle says his department last month handled 302 calls, up 65 percent from last year’s 183.

And, the total calls of 2,333 so far in 2010 is a 42 percent increase for the same time period.

One category that has experienced a large increase has been burglaries.

Ratelle says so far there have been 27, compared to 11 last year at this time.

“People who are struggling financially might do anything to get money,” he says. “I’ve talked with law officers in Freeborn County and they’re experiencing the same thing.”

Disorderly and domestic incidences have more than doubled over last year, 38 and 35 respectively.

Civil standby calls involving domestic no contact orders, separations and evictions are currently at 56. Last year, there were six.

“We go with the party that is going to remove property from the residence to make sure there’s no trouble between the parties,” Ratelle says.

While traffic stops have increased from 247 to 342 from a year ago at this time, accidents are down.

“They’re down significantly, from 42 to 27. We’re very pleased with that,” he says.

The police department has been busy assisting other law enforcement agencies.

In 2009, Wells police arrested nine people wanted on a warrant. Through September, 25 have been apprehended.

In other business, the council:

• Approved the sale of a vacant downtown building the city owns for $29,000.

City Administrator Jeremy German

says the city’s goal was to sell the building and is receiving a fair price.

The sale may mean Frundt & Johnson law firm will have to start looking for a new location.

• Assured a concerned resident that its decision to allow semi trucks to park along Second Street Northwest is only temporary.

Mayor Shannon Savick says an “emergency solution” was needed until the city’s Economic Development Authority Board comes up with a plan to park semis at an industrial park.

Todd Carlson told the council semis parking overnight in the area create safety and noise issues.

In an effort to keep a trucking business from relocating, the council voted to let trucks park on the street until Jan. 15.