The Powell Police Department's annual report looks back on an active year for the city's officers, who made more arrests, responded to more calls and wrote more tickets in 2017 than 2016.

The department in late January released its review of statistics from 2017, which shows officers responded to 6,093 dispatched calls last year -- an increase of 455 calls, or about 8 percent, compared with the total from 2016.

Powell officers arrested 160 adults in 2017, up 37, or about 30 percent, compared with the total from the previous year.

Powell police Chief Gary Vest said the growing number of arrests shows his officers are sticking with cases other departments might view as minor incidents, such as shoplifting and vehicle break-ins. He said he wants criminals to view the city as the wrong place to commit a crime.

"Most likely, we're going to do everything we can to gather physical evidence to prosecute someone down the road," he said.

The city also saw a spike in juvenile arrests. Officers arrested 61 juvenile suspects last year, up 34, or about 126 percent, compared with the total from the prior year.

Vest said last year's total was skewed by officers responding to multiple parties at which people younger than 21 were drinking. He said his department does not typically seek out such parties, but officers tend to discover them when responding to reports of car crashes, fights and noise complaints.

Traffic stops (1,525) and traffic citations (290) each increased by about one-third in 2017 compared with the previous year.

Vest said the increase coincides with a major traffic change at the city's busiest intersection.

Powell City Council last summer temporarily banned left turns during evening rush hour at the city's Four Corners intersection of Liberty and Olentangy streets. After seeing traffic flow improve, the board decided to leave the ban in place permanently

Vest, who said he has long viewed issuing tickets as a final resort, said officers were told to give drivers a grace period to learn about the new restrictions. He said the rise in traffic citations shows drivers "(insisted) on making their left turns" in spite of his officers' best efforts.

"We had people try to make the left turn even with the officer directing them not to," he said.

Vest said he thinks the situation has gradually improved as the ban became ingrained in drivers' heads.

Traffic crashes within city limits fell from 170 in 2016 to 147 in 2017 -- about 14 percent.

Vest said about one-third of those crashes occurred when drivers rear-ended the vehicle in front of them. He said he views distracted driving as a root cause of such crashes.

"People are typically using their cellphones and not looking up quick enough to see the car in front of them stopped," he said.

The department saw its number of "stacked calls" rise from 192 in 2016 to 344 in 2017, an increase of about 79 percent. Vest said "stacked calls" occur when no officer is available to respond to an incident.

Vest said the city's population continues to grow whether the department adds officers or not, which leads to the increase in such calls. In urgent situations, he said the department would request mutual aid from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office or Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Vest said the city's administration and elected officials are aware the department's staffing needs are growing as the city grows.

"They have been progressing toward their goal of monitoring our staffing and, when possible, providing an officer," he said.

The department now has 18 officers and one vacant position. Vest said he hopes to add a 20th officer to the department in 2019.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick