State of the PD - 2020 in review
2020 saw a decrease in crime, a more diverse police force, construction of a new evidence building and a review of the PD’s use of force policies.
Overall, the department saw a 29.4 decrease in non-violent crime and there was a 5.3 percent drop in violent crime from 2019. Part 1 violent offenses in the City of DeLand were down 10 crimes from 2019 from 198 offenses in 2019 to 188 offenses in 2020. Non-violent Part 1 crimes were down 256 offenses from 1126 in 2019 to 870 offenses in 2020. Overall, that equates to 266 fewer Part 1 crimes in 2020 than in 2019.
While some of the decline in crime can be attributed to Covid-19, Police Chief Jason Umberger said the department has been committed to building relationships with members of the community, which has been key in helping solve crimes in the area.
“2020 was a tough year for all of us,” Umberger said. “The pandemic created many challenges with how law enforcement interacts with the community. But I believe the inroads we have made over the past few years are starting to pay off and we are starting to see that.”
Umberger said the PD has been proactively working on recruiting members to the force that better reflect the makeup of the community. In 2020, the PD recruited two women and several minority officers to the force.
Here is a breakdown of the sworn officers at the PD:
- 70.8% White (51)
- 15.3% Hispanic/Latino (11)
- 11.1% Black/African American (8)
- 1.4% Two or more races (Mixed) (1)
- 1.4% Asian (1)
Construction started late last year on the police department’s evidence building, which will sit across from the police headquarters at 219 West Howry Avenue. The facility will provide much needed space for the PD’s evidence and allow us to process larger evidence such as cars on site.
Construction is expected to be complete at the end of 2021.
Use of Force
Events across the nation also led the police department to evaluate its use of force policies to better align with its mission of community policing. While many of these policies were already in place, the PD is now in compliance with the 8 Can’t Wait initiative, which calls for:
- Chokeholds and vascular neck restraints are prohibited unless the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.
- De-escalation as a goal in every encounter
- Verbal warning before using deadly force when possible/practical
- Exhausting all less lethal options before using deadly force
- Duty to Intervene: members shall intervene where physical force is being applied to either stop or attempt to stop another member when the force is excessive, being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.
- Shooting at or from a moving vehicle is not authorized unless the use of deadly force is needed to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.
- Members trained on the use of force continuum
- Require comprehensive reporting
The PD also evaluated how it responds with use of force when responding to calls. Every police use of force is reviewed by supervisors, our training unit/ use of force instructors, our Professional Responsibility Division and finally the Chief of Police for compliance under our policy and state law.
In 2020, there were 75,820 interactions with the public – that includes response to calls and the PD’s initiatives like Operation Honorable Endeavor, which promotes harmonious relationships between officers and residents.
Of the 1,221 arrests made in 2020, police used non-lethal force in 7 instances after the individuals resisted arrest. In comparison, 8 officers were assaulted last year while carrying out their official duties. There were zero instances with police needing to use lethal force in response to calls for service.
Umberger said he and his officers look forward to continuing to serve our community with honor and integrity.
“Ultimately, the goal of the police department is keeping our community safe and I am proud of all that we have done to accomplish that,” Umberger said. “There will always be crime, but working together with residents we can create a safer city and make a DeLand an even better place to live, work and play.”