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Police getting far fewer calls

If Red Wing police are sure about one thing, it's that there's no one reason for a recent drop in calls for service.

Activity plunged 17 percent between April and July over the same period in 2007, police Chief Tim Sletten reported.

The difference - 610 fewer calls - isn't attributable to a single cause, he said.

"I think it would be unrealistic," Sletten said Tuesday.

That's because the decrease is spread across the spectrum of activity, from noise complaints to assaults.

Sletten said numerous factors likely played a role in this year's second-quarter figures. Enforcement, education and community involvement all had an impact, he said.

The biggest drop in calls came in animal complaints, down 88 calls from the second quarter of 2007. Theft calls registered second, falling by 78, or 37 percent.

First-quarter activity was up slightly - .008 percent - over 2007, according to police data.

The arrest and conviction of several suspects in the January murder of Luis Orlando Galicia Mijangos - killed about two blocks from Red Wing police headquarters - has given investigators plenty of fodder for unsolved cases, Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher said last week.

A witness in the case testified that some of the suspects also claimed to have particip[ated in several Red Wing burglaries.

While capture of the murder suspects "plays a part" in slowing some calls for service, Sletten said other efforts played a larger role.

Over the past four years, Red Wing beat officers have ramped up neighborhood foot patrols.

"I think that has made an impact," Sletten said.

Foot patrols create a crime deterrent by establishing a police presence on the streets, he said. The message, Sletten explained, is to empower neighborhood residents to become proactive in preventing crime.

Part of the increase has meant more reserve officers out on foot, Sletten said.

East End resident Nancy Mikitta said the effort is paying off.

"I tend to think that, particularly, the officers walking the beat make a big difference," she said.

Mikitta, who helped organize the East End's first official National Night Out, said she feels that criminal activity has slowed in her neighborhood, but admitted, "Maybe I'm just more aware of it this year."

She doesn't mind that heightened police presence has played a role, especially in light of the second-quarter data.

"It'd be nice for that trend to continue," Mikitta said.