TO: Mayor Wilfred Rosas
: Common Council Members
FROM: Chief David C. Ortolano
SUBJECT: 2017 Report
I want to start out this report on a very sad note as 2017 was one of the most trying heartbreaking years in the history of the Dunkirk Police Department with the death of our beloved K-9 Officer Matthew Hazelton. Matthew was a very dedicated Officer that
served this Community with Dedication, Integrity, Honor and Respect and he was a very important part of our Department. We truly found out what an amazing caring support system we have in our Brothers and Sisters in the Police and Fire Service, City Administration and the Citizens and Business Community we serve. The outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing and it helped our Department and the Hazelton family as we struggled through a very tough time. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Matthew’s family and we will always be DPD Strong for them. There is an emptiness in the hearts and hallways of the Dunkirk Police Department that can never be filled.
As you will see we had a very busy year. While our total calls for service increased by about 15% our overall crime rate statistics went down showing a 10% decrease when compared to 2016. Notable Investigations in 2017 included a homicide case on July 6th which was closed by arrest after investigation by our Patrol and Detective Officers. In the Spring Months of the year we made several Narcotic Arrests as a result of investigations by our Drug Task Force Agents/Detectives, Patrol and SRT Officers. Within a three week time frame we charged 9 subjects and shut down two substantial Narcotic operations. We didn’t stop there as during the course of the year we made several more Narcotic arrests as well.
These investigations are the result of very dedicated work by our Drug Task Force Agents/Detectives, Patrol Officers and SRT officers. We continue our work on Narcotic related investigations on a daily basis with our Task Force Officers, Detectives, Patrol Officers and most importantly the assistance of the citizens of our Community as this type of activity can affect the quality of life in the Community. We ran several Street Sweep initiatives in a cooperative effort with NYS Parole. This program is aimed at street and neighborhood level checks for warrants and criminal activity and to assure that parolees are complying with their terms of release. We have also had great success on many other major case and narcotics investigations and arrests as well. Again the success we enjoy in our investigations and arrests does not come without the help of the Community. Our Community Policing efforts have paid huge dividends as we have seen an increase in citizens coming forward with information and getting involved to help us make this Community a safer place.
Our Nextdoor Neighbor social media based Neighborhood Watch has grown this past year as well. The combination of our Community involvement and the dedication of the men and women of the Dunkirk Police Department working hard every day have made a difference and we will continue to work for them and make that difference each and every day. We cannot thank the Community residents enough for their help. We are only as effective as the Community that stands behind us.
We are dedicated to provide the best in public safety to our residents as well as our Business Community and those who work and visit here by addressing residential quality of life issues in Neighborhoods and by maintaining a proactive Patrol presence on a regular basis creating a safe environment in our Neighborhoods, Business Districts, Waterfront and Park areas. We had a large number of Residents and Businesses participating in our House Watch and Business Watch program in 2017. The Department conducted 13,800 area and business checks and 2,385 house checks for 2017, this is a total increase of close to 40% compared to 2016. Programs such as these are just a few examples that embody the dedication of a local Police Department that enjoys such a great relationship with it’s Residents and Business Community.
We worked closely with the City School District in 2017 on training programs for our Patrol and SRT Officers related to School Safety. Our SRT Team received a Protective Equipment Grant for $16,000 that has allowed us to purchase much needed proper tactical and safety equipment for our Team. As part of our STEP Grant we focused Patrols in the School Zone areas for Speed Enforcement and we also dedicate Patrols to all the School District areas during the day especially during the arrival and release times.
Some Highlights from the good news department in 2017: We welcomed our new K-9 Gunny to the Department and he will be handled by Officer Brian Dietzen. Off. Dietzen and Gunny have already proven to be a very valuable asset to the Department and Community. The Department participated in School Reader Day Programs within all the School Districts Elementary Schools from October thru April. Our Officers participated in many events during the year with local businesses, clubs and organizations aimed at promoting a positive relationship with everyone from our children to our senior citizens. Our Nextdoor Neighbor Program is still going strong, programs such as this strengthens our long standing Neighborhood Watch program. We provided a very safe environment along the Waterfront and Parks during our very busy summer months with Music on the Pier and July 4th activities as well as many other festivities. The highlight of the summer season was the Second Dunkirk Air Show. We worked together with the Fire Department and other City Departments to provide a very safe event for tens of thousands of residents and visitors. The 24th edition of our National Night Out in August was a huge success with another large turnout. This program continues to grow each year and more than a dozen of our Officers volunteered for the program again. 2018 will be our 25th National Night Out and it is truly a testament to the Night Out Coordinators and the residents of our Community that we have kept this program growing when many communities have given up on it. We coordinated two prescription take back programs one in the spring and one in the fall and the Department and PBA ended the year by assisting the County Office of Aging with the Santa for Seniors program, this program helps our Senior Citizens in need during the Christmas Holiday Season and let’s them visit with our Officers.
We have continued our Patrol Services contract with the Town of Dunkirk which provides Residential and Business area checks in the Town. The Town is very happy with our service and we look forward to our continued relationship with them.
I commend the Command, Patrol and Detective divisions of the Department for their leadership, diligence and dedication. Our SRT Team and Drug Task Force have done a commendable job as well. As a note, reports and statistics show that Law Enforcement Officer Deaths by firearms increased by another 35% in 2017 on top of a 65% increase in 2016 with 129 line of Duty Deaths Nationwide. Assaults on Police Officers rose again in 2017 as well. This is a concern to all Law Enforcement and we address this with our Officers in our ongoing in-service training throughout the year.
On behalf of the entire Dunkirk Police Department I want to thank all of you for your support .It is very important to have an Administration that supports us and allows us the tools we need to successfully do our work and provide the best in public safety to those we serve. We look forward to our continued relationship and working together with you to keep our Community a safe place to live, work and visit.
Please feel free to contact me at anytime if you have any questions.
David C. Ortolano
Chief of Police