FORTVILLE — Chief Patrick Bratton of Fortville’s Police Department provided an update to the public on their departments 2023 numbers, events and highlighted goals the department has as 2024 is only a few months in at the town council meeting Tuesday night.

Bratton said that every year he does a detailed report of the breakdown of numbers with calls, revenue with their event of Shop with Public Safety, and highlights goals that the department plans to focus on.

Over the course of 2023, Bratton said they had received a total of 12,049 calls of service, an approximate 3,000 call jump from 2022 numbers.

In 2023, there were 2,801 traffic stops recorded with citations up. Bratton said he believes those were up due to the Ind. 67 project, with noticing more speeding in construction zones and people running stop signs on side streets.

Bratton said there were 748 traffic warnings compared to 285 tickets given last year, an approximate one in four people receiving a ticket.

Bratton said that both narcotic and juvenile numbers were up this past year, juvenile cases increasing due to having officers in the schools and having more vaping and THC and narcotics they are seeing in the vapes.

“It’s usually a THC vape that they get and we have the ability to test whether it is CBD or actually THC,” said Bratton at the meeting. “We have a testing process to be able to determine whether it is under the .03 or above the .03 state law.”

Bratton said that Indiana is not a punishment state but a rehabilitative state for juveniles, so unless there is a heinous crime, they try to rehabilitate and educate.

“Kids make mistakes and they learn from them,” Bratton said. “… I think education is key on that one, it’s just let them know the effects and what it can cause and things like that.”

With weapons arrests, Bratton said they didn’t have numbers for 2021 but in 2022 they had 11 arrests and in 2023 they had seven arrests. Bratton said they have limited data due to how the data is entered, such as stolen property and are not able to track those numbers unless it specifically states firearms in the report.

For community events, Bratton highlighted Shop with Public Safety, which is one of his favorite events for the year. Bratton said that with this event, it allows the police department to be able to help people not just when they call for a crisis or situation. With Shop with Public Safety, Bratton said that is something they can prepare and have a good time, getting closer to the community.

“I feel it takes not only the police department but the community as well to help keep an area safe,” Bratton said. “.. We want to make sure that our citizens know they can trust us.”

This past year they raised $12,819.01 through the help of the community and was able to also give some funds to the Hancock County FOP to help assist with families in Greenfield.

“It think it’s great, our community really pulls together and helps out when people are in need,” said Bratton at the meeting.

The police department also received the bulletproof vest grant, a 50% match grant that helps allow the replacement of vest for all officers every five years as required by the Department of Justice. They also have the Small Rural Tribal (SRT) grant for funding updates to body cameras.

While body cameras are an expensive purchase, Bratton said those are for transparency purposes and even though it is not mandated, he likes the opportunity for people to see how the footage if need be.

All the AEDs in patrol cars were also replaced, funded by the RDC. Bratton said that with the new devices, they are the same kind used with the Vernon Township Fire Department, which helps respond to those calls so everyone is on the same page on what kind of equipment is being used.

Bratton said they were also able to certify two officers in critical incident training (CIT), which helps officers handle calls where people need mental health help and how to handle and approach those situations. Bratton said that approximately 85% of the police department is now certified, and there will be another training later on this year.

Bratton said that they have seen a number increase in these calls since COVID, and that when he first started working, if someone was having a mental health crisis, they’d be taken to jail and sat there until they figured it out. Bratton said with studies and research since then, it shows sometimes people who are having a bad day don’t necessarily need to be arrested but provided other resources within the community.

“Usually when they call for things like that, they are their lowest of the low, you know,” Bratton said. “They need resources and it’s not just for a police officer to show up and take them to jail.”

For 2024, Bratton said they aim to continue to build partnerships within the community and host events such as their Coffee with a Cop event they have every year and then also add Meet the Chief night. Bratton said these events are just another way for the community to be able to reach out to the police department and get to know them outside a work related setting.

Bratton said the Meet the Chief night will be at the town hall with dates to be determined, where people can come ask questions about himself, the police department and more which helps build trust between the community and the police department.

“I don’t want to be known as the police department that nobody wants to call,” Bratton said. “I want people to know that when they are in time of need, when they need us we’re going to be there and we’re going to do the best job we can do and give them every resource we can give them.”

Community events that the police department also helps with are the town’s events and then two non-profit events, Kammy’s Kause and Blazer 88, assisting with their motorcycle rides.

They’ll also participate in the county’s night out event where the police department will hand out backpacks and supplies before school starts, Walmart being a big donor.

Two new officers will join the police department this year, one who started at the beginning of 2024 and one who will join in July. Bratton said he also wants to get three more officers CIT trained to help with those kinds of calls, and has a goal of adding two more reserve officers to the team, creating an approximate 20-member team.