As the city of Bexley struggles to find a solution to its pending budget crisis, Police Chief Larry Rinehart says the dollars invested in his department are paying dividends to the community.

As the city of Bexley struggles to find a solution to its pending budget crisis, Police Chief Larry Rinehart says the dollars invested in his department are paying dividends to the community.

City council is considering using a combination of an increase in the city income tax and reductions in operating expenses to balance the city's budget over the next five years. Rinehart says if cuts are made in the police budget, he fears increased crime would result.

"One of my concerns in this current budget discussion is that if we cut proactive police patrol and/or reduce our aggressive investigation of misdemeanor crime, we will ultimately see an increase in violent crime," Rinehart said.

"In other words, when we quit addressing the smaller issues as well, the larger, more violent issues increase. I believe that trend has been proven across the country time and time again."

Rinehart said he is concerned that some think the city police budget can be trimmed.

"Unfortunately some believe that the dollars saved by reducing patrol officers and/or detectives far outweighs the reduction in police service," Rinehart said. "I believe any reduction in police service to this community could create disastrous results, including an increase in violent crime - the type of violent crime that often surrounds this little island, but is held at bay by the highly visible police patrol of our well-trained, professional, dedicated police force."

Rinehart said violent crime is not a major issue in Bexley today.

"Fortunately, I believe that due to our aggressive, proactive patrol philosophy (keep the cars moving and the offices vigilant for the highest visibility possible) we do not see a lot of violent crime. We see large amounts of petty crime, but by addressing that as aggressively as possible, I believe we discourage violent criminals from coming here."

However, Rinehart said, the past year has been a busy one for Bexley police officers.

"In 2010, our little police department in this 2.5-square-mile city responded to almost 12,000 calls for service, took 821 police reports, 265 traffic crash reports, arrested 486 people, filed 643 criminal charges, and investigated 101 reports of burglary and breaking and entering," Rinehart said. "We did all this while focusing on aggressive, proactive police patrol and by putting over 200,000 miles on our police vehicles. These numbers do not show any significant decline in our community's need for police service."

According to the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, the nation experienced a 5.5-percent decrease in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8- percent decline in the number of property crimes in 2010 when compared with data from 2009.

"Of the four violent crime offense categories listed (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), in 2010 we investigated two felonious assaults, two aggravated assaults, and seven robberies," Rinehart said. "It is typical for us to investigate a small number of rapes in any given year, but we did not have any reported incidents of rape in 2010. Periodically we investigate a murder, but not every year and none in 2010. We do normally see some cases of robbery, and aggravated assault each year. Again, these low numbers are due to an aggressive police presence in our city."