Printed on: September 12, 2013

Policing the little stuff

Clean-cut Rexburg keeps police busy with minor crimes

By RUTH BROWN
rbrown@postregister.com

REXBURG -- Despite this city's clean-cut image, officers with the Rexburg Police Department respond to anywhere from 15 to 50 calls for service a day.

Sometimes, those calls can involve out-of-the-ordinary "emergencies."

Like the time officer Troy Dameron responded to a 911 call from someone who lost the remote for the television.

Then there was the 911 complaint that came from someone offended by two young women sunbathing in a city park. They were wearing bathing suits. Police notified the sunbathers that while what they were doing wasn't illegal, people were complaining.

Last week, Dameron responded to a 911 call from someone who complained that a roommate took all the groceries after moving out, something that in cities other than Rexburg might not be reported.

"We don't get to filter what comes through dispatch, we just have to deal with it," Dameron said. "... Normally you wouldn't see someone report that."

The reports are enough to keep law enforcement busy, but city police say they are often a little strange.

During an average day, Idaho Falls police respond to about 130 to 180 calls for service, IFPD spokeswoman Joelyn Hansen said.

Calls for service at the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office range from 115 to 150 a day, Sgt. Jeff Edwards said.

Edwards said although his agency does see small reports, he thinks dispatchers are successful in sorting out what calls actually need a response.

Thefts remain the biggest issue for police, but on weekends, Edwards said they often see crimes involving alcohol and drugs that affect people's judgment.

So what makes Rexburg different?

"We don't have a bar and all the problems that come with that and fraternity parties (that many other college towns have) -- we just don't have those," Dameron said.

Brigham Young University-Idaho is a private, religious school and students conform to conduct defined by the school's honor code, Dameron said.

There's also very little low-income rental housing in the city, which Dameron said decreases the issues that come with neighborhoods in poverty, such as major thefts and drugs.

Rexburg Sgt. Brian Allen agreed that his agency does get a lot of minor calls on issues such as noise complaints. But the complaints aren't about raging parties -- they're often about a neighbor whose TV is too loud during student finals week. Residents often will call police, Allen said, rather than asking their neighbors to quiet down.

But sometimes the calls are more serious. The city has a lot of young couples with children, which sometimes can lead to domestic violence.

"You'll find new, young couples with one or two kids. They're stressed out over money or just over all the things in life and there's a lack of communication," Dameron said. "They have a breaking point, and about 50 percent are physical."

Outside of domestic violence, law enforcement agreed Rexburg's biggest issues are traffic control, parking and petit thefts.

Ruth Brown can be reached at 542-6750.