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Arsons, animals keep BPS busy

Trying to keep more than 12,000 Bainbridge residents safe all of the time isn’t as easy a job as it might seem, as statistics released by Bainbridge Public Safety show its officers—dual-trained in both firefighting and police work—stay busy.

BPS Director Larry Funderburke and several of his department’s top officers addressed the Bainbridge City Council at their Tuesday night meeting. Based on the statistics and what the officers told council members, increases in 911 calls, animal control incidents and the number of fires on abandoned properties have been a cause of concern during the last year.

Between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, BPS officers responded to 180 reports of fire, up from 160 the previous year, Fire Chief Dennis Mock said. Mock listed a few of the more notable fires as: one which torched an abandoned structure behind the Hutto McIver Apartments last Dec. 6, one at Delta Tire on Dothan Road last December, one at Flint River Mills on Dothan Road on Feb. 10, one at an abandoned mobile home on Orange Street and two separate fires at a house on Sharpe Street, near its intersection with Scott Street.

An 11-year-old boy was charged with arson in connection with the December 6. Mock said a fire on the evening of April 28 at a Sharpe Street house that had already been abandoned by fire in July 2008 has been declared to be an act of arson, however, BPS continue to look for leads as to who may have set it. Arson was also suspected in a fire that destroyed a house on Helen Street in March 2008.

“I would love to get some of these abandoned houses down,” Chief Mock said.

From July 2008 to June 2009, BPS officers responded to 26,286 calls in total, generating 2,909 incident reports. They responded to 1,497 animal-related calls, up from 854 the previous year.

BPS Chief Investigator said investigators worked on 358 total cases last year, making 183 arrests. There were 119 thefts, 45 drug cases, 48 burglaries, 24 assaults, 14 sex crimes, seven robberies and two murders. The shooting death of Datta Atul Dave at the Inland convenience store on Shotwell Street on Oct. 15, 2008 remains unsolved.