WILMINGTON — Although he joined the police force just five months ago Hillsboro High School graduate and current police officer Cody Juillerat believes that being nice and treating people with respect is part of the reason Wilmington saw an 88 percent decrease in violent crime from 2004 to 2012, the most recent year data is available for.
“It’s paramount … because you’re one person out policing 12,000 citizens,” said Juillerat, a 2006 HHS graduate who now lives in Leesburg and became a patrol officer with the Wilmington Police Department in April. “You’re there to truly service the citizens of Wilmington.”
Duane Weyand, the Wilmington police chief, credits good, hometown police officers with reducing violent crime — to a fraction of what it once was.
Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that in 2004, 68 violent crimes were tracked by the FBI in Wilmington. By 2012, that number steadily decreased to 8, an 88 percent decrease.
The Uniform Crime Reporting Program was created by the FBI more than 80 years ago to create a national, reliable crime statistics program. The data tracked on the report includes homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery as violent crimes. Other violent crimes, such as simple assault or menacing, aren’t tracked.
In Hillsboro, the FBI’s UCR figures show that it tracked four violent crimes in 2012. Hillsboro figures for 2004 were not immediately available.
Weyand, who has been chief for three years, attributed the drop in violent crimes to good officers doing hard work, a community that cares, and to investigating drug-related cases.
Officers cannot be required to live within a community, due to a state law upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court, but Weyand said Wilmington’s officers choose to live in or near the city and county.
In turn, Weyand said, “The department feels loved by our community and the officers feel like they can’t let someone down. (That leads to) better police work because we care about the citizens.”
And, according to Juillerat and Sergeant Neil Rager, being part of the community helps police do their jobs.
“You try to get back to the way it was in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Rager, who lives in Clarksville. “You try to get back to that mindset where people know you” and talk to officers.
Weyand, Rager and Juillerat said the department’s staff all believe in the value of being active in the community.
“We believe in it,” Rager said. “It helps us. You get the community involved here, and they help you, which helps you solve crimes and keeps you safer.”
“It makes my job easier in the future if you just go out, are nice to people, treat them with respect,” Juillerat said. “Really, it’s preventive policing, in my mind.”
Juillerat, the son of Jim and Angie Juillerat of Hillsboro, worked for the Highland County Probation Department before he decided to attend a police academy. Angie said it was rough on the family since Codey couldn’t work while he was attending the academy, but she believes her son made a good decision.
“He loves it. He loves helping people,” Angie said. “He’s always been good with people. We believe God has big plans for him down the road.”
Being part of the community, Rager said, also keeps up morale.
“We like people,” Rager said. “We want them to be happy. … It’s nice when somebody waves at you and just wants to talk.
According to Weyand, Wilmington’s community support attracts officers, which, coupled with higher morale, allows the department to retain and recruit good talent.
Arresting drug offenders, including big busts such as the Marlena Park roundup in 2014 that indicted more than 70 people, reduces crime, according to Weyand.
“The word we’re hearing is you can’t find heroin in the city like you used to,” Weyand said. “We’re making it harder (for drug dealers) to do business in our city, and by doing that, we’re not having nearly the drug-related crime that we used to have.”
Ultimately, Weyand said the department’s success is directly caused by having good officers, thousands of hours of training across the department and getting officers to be involved in the community.
“The vision of the police department is to provide great customer service and be considered one of the best police organizations in Ohio — that’s our vision,” Weyand said. “If everyone believes in that mantra, we’re going to have lower crime, we’re going to have lesser crimes, we’re going to have a responsive police department, we’re going to have a police department that is vested that is woven into the fabric of our community that is here to serve and make a difference.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.