What a difference a year makes.

What a difference a year makes.

Last summer Hilliard City Council members were urging Chief Rodney Garnett to make changes in the Division of Police's approach to crime fighting in the wake of increasing crime statistics.

Monday night Garnett earned praise from City Council President Brett Sciotto following an announcement that major crimes were down 7 percent in 2007.

"Cities I work with all over the country are seeing an increase in crime," Sciotto said. "The fact that we can have a decrease is a significant accomplishment, so I commend you. It is clear that some of these new, proactive programs that you are pushing are working and we need to continue to do that."

Garnett presented the Division of Police annual report for 2007 during Monday night's Hilliard City Council Safety Committee meeting, announcing overall reported crimes were down 0.85 percent and that major crimes were down 7 percent.

"We began using environmental criminology to become more effective in 2007," Garnett said. "We focused on three basic elements we call the crime triangle."

Garnett said those three elements include eliminating a suitable target, serving as a capable guardian for the community and negating the presence of a motivated offender. By employing that strategy, Garnett said the Division of Police was successful in its efforts to reduce crime in the community.

"The police division responded to 55,204 calls for police service during 2007, a slight increase in calls from 2006," Garnett said. "Larceny was still the largest number of reported crimes. However, the number of reported thefts decreased by 8 percent."

Garnett praised the efforts of his officers for doing their part to reduce crime in the city.

"Each officer is committed to removing criminals off our streets," he said. "In 2007 our division filed a total of 1,938 charges against criminals. This is up over 8 percent from 2006. While our detectives were working the 539 cases they were assigned in 2007, they also assisted our patrol officers target gang enforcement and liquor permits enforcement."

Among the division's crime fighting initiatives for 2007 was an increase in emphasis on community education.

"Criminals tend to go for the easy target," Garnett said. "By educating our community we reduce victimization. Through 148 hours of personal contact, our officers spoke directly with 16,474 citizens through public appearances in order to take extra measure in educating our community in crime prevention."

Garnett said that while women's self-defense, fraud prevention and Internet safety were points of emphasis, the battle against crime was also taken directly into the city's neighborhoods.

"Our officers worked directly with citizens in subdivisions we felt needed extra education and support, giving the citizens more personalized contact, and our overall reported victimization was down," he said.

Garnett said he is confident that the Division of Police has responded effectively in reducing crime.

"Crimes are down and arrests are up." he said. "Our strategies are working and I believe we are on the right track."

Other key statistics contained in the annual report included:

In 2007 a total of 3,166 crimes were reported, 35 percent of which were classified as major crimes (1,101).

A total of 446 juvenile arrests were made in 2007, up from 330 in 2006 and the most since 2004 when 412 juveniles were arrested.

Criminal charges were filed against 1,492 offenders in 2007, 50 more than in 2006 and the most since 2004 when1,629 arrests were made.

There were no murders in Hilliard 2007. None were reported in 2006 either.

Burglaries were down in 2007 with 132 reported compared to 153 in 2006.

Assaults were down in 2007 with 227 reported compared to 247 in 2006.

Thefts were also down with 666 reported in 2007 compared to 724 in 2006.

Arsons were also down with nine reported in 2007 compared to 11 in 2006.

Auto thefts were up with 46 reported in 2007 compared to 27 in 2006.

Seven rapes were reported in the city in 2007, up from three in 2006.

Patrol officers completed 2,045 criminal complaint reports, effected 1,938 physical arrests, issued 3,660 traffic citations, 108 parking citations and wrote 1,716 warning notices.

The Field Operations unit responded to 1,554 automobile accidents, conducted 2,123 house checks for vacationing residents and unlocked 622 vehicles at the request of citizens.

The canine unit responded to 901 calls for assistance in 2007.