Ridgefield police responded to fewer calls in 2019 than either of the previous two years, while the number of arrests increased slightly, the police chief’s year-end report shows.

Of the 18,538 incidents police responded to last year, 127, or less than one percent resulted in an arrest.

The figure is separate from the department’s crime clearance rate - how many reported crimes are solved or closed - which has not yet been released for 2019.

Motor vehicle citations were down, falling by nearly 19 percent from 2018.

Police gave drivers more verbal warnings over the previous two years, while all other forms of enforcement fell — including speeding summons and misdemeanors.

Accidents were also down. Police recorded 566 crashes in 2019, a drop of just over 9 percent from the previous year.

There were no fatal accidents in Ridgefield in 2019, or for the last two years.

Police responded to two vehicle accidents involving a pedestrian and 29 involving animals —up from 20 the year before.

Alarms, car thefts, domestic violence

After traffic enforcement and accidents combined, calls for alarms made up the second largest category of police calls.

Police responded to 1,228 alarms in 2019, up nearly 24 percent from the year before.

Chief Jeff Kreitz said the exact reason the number of alarm calls rose is unclear, and said it could not be attributed to one specific security company — such as the Nest or Ring home security devices.

Medical assists and wellbeing checks, together another large category of police calls, both stayed relatively the same over the past three years.

Stolen cars, which police have reminded residents about a number of times, remained low. Eight cars were stolen in town in 2019, the same number as the year before. Car thefts spiked in 2017, when 18 vehicles were taken, according to the report.

Like many communities in the area, Ridgefield has seen a run of cars stolen overnight from residential driveways, which were typically unlocked with the keys left inside.

“These incidents are primarily from unlocked cars in driveways,” said Kreitz. “We continue to remind residents to always lock their vehicles, remove all valuables and report any suspicious activity.”

Thieves have often stolen items from unlocked cars on the same night they steal vehicles from the town. The town saw 30 thefts from motor vehicles in 2019, up from the year before but still less than in 2017.

Domestic incidents fell for the third year. Police responded to 82 incidents of family violence in 2019, down more than 28 percent from the year before.

“These incidents rose in 2017 for an unknown reason. Since then they dropped,” said Kreitz. He said the line in the report includes both criminal incidents and those that did not rise to the level of a crime.

Cases involving assault remained uncommon — there were two reported in 2019, five the year before, and three in 2017. Threatening crimes also stayed low, with one reported last year, five in 2018, and one in 2017.

Scams

While internet and mail crimes fell by two thirds, down to seven in 2019 versus 21 the year before, the chief said the reduction may be because officers reported the call as a case of fraud or identity theft.

“The change in the number of cases fluctuates year to year,” said Kreitz. “We continually remind the public through different channels of the latest scams.”

In early February, the department posted a release from the better business bureau telling residents to be on the lookout for tax return theft. The scam involves thieves using the victim’s personal information to file their taxes first, and then stealing their tax return.

In January, another scam called residents soliciting donations for the Ridgefield Police Department over the phone — something the police union and benevolent association said they only do by mail.

There were 50 cases involving forgery or fraud in 2019, double the prior year, and 58 cases involving identity theft.

“As a reminder to the public, never give out any personal information unless you (the individual) initiates the contact,” Kreitz said. “Call the police department if someone is unsure whether or not something is a scam.”

Other calls

Other, more common police calls stayed about the same as prior years. In 2019 there were 21 calls involving disorderly conduct, five for possession of marijuana and three involving narcotics. There were 30 DUI calls, the same number as the year before.

Missing person calls, or attempts to locate a person, fell to 18 from 43 the year before.

Larcenies rose to a 93, up after a dip in 2018. Kreitz said commercial businesses are focused on the issue.

Kreitz said he was extremely proud of his officers “and their dedication to the community, their continued commitment keeps Ridgefield ranked as one of the safest towns in the state.”

“I would also like to thank the citizens of Ridgefield for their continued support,” the chief said.