Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Men in Blue—Marco’s Finest

Capt. Dave Baer. Photo by Carole Musgrave

Capt. Dave Baer. Photo by Carole Musgrave

Marco Island residents may not be aware of the impressive qualifications of the police officers who make up our local force. The officers’ backgrounds, qualifications, experience, and training, add up to a formidable force to protect us and keep us crime free here on Marco. Coastal Breeze News thought our readers might like get better acquainted with Marco’s Finest, so in the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of the individuals who make up our local police force. To begin the series, we talked to Captain David Baer, who kindly provided us with an overview of the Marco Island Police Department.

The MIPD consists of: Chief of Police, Police Captain, Police Lieutenants (4), Police Sergeants (4), Police officers (22 FT) (4 Reserve / Aux.)

The MIPD is also served by 11 civilian volunteers, 4 full-time civilian employees (2 Code Compliance Officials, 1 Administrative Assistant, 1 Records Clerk), and 3 part-time civilian employees.

Captain Baer shared with us these breathtaking statistics:

  • Between the 32 Full Time and 4 Reserve/Auxiliary officers, the MIPD has a total of 744 years experience in Law Enforcement, an average of  20.4 years in police work.  Average tenure of the MIPD: full-time – 6.4 years, Reserve – 5.5 years.
  • Rank at a former agency: Chief – 5%; Asst. Chief – 5%; Captain – 3%; Lieutenant – 8%; Sergeant – 11%; A/Sgt. – 2%; Corporal – 1%; Officer – 65%.
  • 50% of the force have college degrees (13% with 2, 5% with 3). 1 FBI National Academy Graduate, 2 Southern Police academy Command Officer / Administrative Officer Graduate, 1 Northwestern University School of Staff and Command Graduate, 56% were Detectives at a former agency, 43% SWAT certified, 19% are Veterans, 30% Certified Firefighters, and 8% Certified EMT’s.

Even among the Reserve Officers the diversity of experience and civilian employment is remarkable:  They include a  police chief, fire chief, firearms instructor, and a minister!

Thanks to the hard work and dedication all MIPD personnel; sworn, non-sworn, paid and volunteer:

  • Crime on Marco Island decreased in 2009.
  • Clearance rates for crimes that were committed increased.
  • CAD (computer aided dispatch) events, a measure of calls for service and officer initiated activity, increased.
  • Part I, or index crimes (homicide and non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) were reduced from 217 in 2008 to 165 in 2009, a reduction of 23.9%. 53 of the 165 Part I crimes were cleared in 2009.
  • Part II crimes were reduced to 56 in 2009 from 84 in 2008, a reduction of 33.3%. Violent crimes were reduced to 10 in 2009, from 13 in 2008, a reduction of 23%. Often violent crimes were cleared in 2009, with the tenth violent crime pending clearance with an arrest warrant.
  • Overall agency clearance rates increased to 32.1%. Clearance rates have never been higher since the inception of the Department in 2000.
  • In 2000 there were 398 Part I reported. The 221 Part I and II reported in 2009 reflect a 58.5% reduction in crimes since 2000.
  • In 2009 there were 18 reported burglaries, a 74.2% reduction since 2004, when 70 burglaries were reported.
  • Demand for police services, as measured by calls for service and officer initiated activity (CAD), increased 9% from 62,297 to 68,314 in 2009. 68,314 CAD events represent a 43% increase since 2006, and a 79% increase since 2000.

In addition to the skills and experience of this outstanding team, Capt. Baer attributes the success record of the MIPD to Marco citizens who expect a high level of performance. He says the residents are “tuned in” and have a sense when things are “not right.” (His only frustration is what he calls the “12-hour witness,” the person who waits until the next day to report suspicious activity and don’t call the police immediately. It‘s better for the police to investigate incidents that turn out to be of no consequence, he says, than to miss out on results they could get by arriving at the scene quickly.) Captain Baer also points out that a visible police presence, for instance officers seen often on traffic duty, works as a significant deterrent to criminals.

To increase efficiency, reduce duplication of effort, and maximize resources, MIPD actively participates in community partnerships with (not limited to): CART (Child Abduction Response Team), Chamber of Commerce, Charter Middle School, Collier County Sheriff, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children and Families, Drug Free Collier, State Attorney’s

Marco Police and Fire personnel rescue a dog who locked himself in a car. They take care of us all—human or canine! Photo by Jim Sousa

Marco Police and Fire personnel rescue a dog who locked himself in a car. They take care of us all—human or canine! Photo by Jim Sousa

Office, Tommie Barfield Elementary School, Naples Police Department, United States Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard & Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the YMCA. Marco Island personnel receive continuous education and training as the state requires, as the law and philosophies change, and as new technology is introduced.

We asked Capt. Baer about the kinds of high-tech equipment the department utilizes on the job.  As well as mobile cameras, some of these resources are:

Thermal imaging device (Grant funded – $30K) is used in a variety of situations such as missing persons or fugitive searches, officer safety, surveillance, hidden compartment location, collision investigation, search and rescue, disturbed surfaces, and vessel or vehicle location.

LoJack is a small, silent radio transceiver that is hidden in a vehicle by a certified LoJack technician. Once installed, the unit is automatically registered in the LoJack Database, which interfaces with the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC) system used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

In the event of a theft, you report the incident to the police, who make a routine entry into the state police crime computer, resulting in a match of the LoJack System’s unique code against the state VIN database. This process automatically triggers the activation of the LoJack Unit in your vehicle.

Once your theft is reported to police, law enforcement computers send a signal via the LoJack Radio Tower Network to activate the LoJack in vehicle. When activated, the LoJack Unit begins emitting an inaudible signal that can be tracked by police cars and aviation units that are equipped with LoJack Police Tracking Computers.

The LoJack Police Tracking Computer receives the LoJack Signal and leads the police to your stolen vehicle. Unlike GPS systems, which require line-of-sight access to orbiting satellites, LoJack’s patented Radio Frequency Signal can penetrate forest cover, parking garages and many other obstructions, helping ensure the vehicle will be located by police, regardless of where thieves may be hiding it.

Once your vehicle is tracked and recovered, you will be notified by police. LoJack boasts a 90-percent recovery rate nationally, with most recoveries completed within hours.

ALPR – (Mobile Automated License Plate Recognition), an amazing instrument that helps in the following: Stolen Vehicle Identification, Wanted Felons, BOLO’s, and AMBER Alert, Sexual Predators and DUI Surveillance, Surveillance and Investigation, Drug Enforcement, Homeland Security and Interoperability, Stolen Vehicle Identification, Wanted Felons, BOLO’s and AMBER Alert, Sexual Predators and DUI Surveillance, Surveillance and Investigation, Drug Enforcement, Homeland Security and Interoperability.

FRED (Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device), a hardware and software based device used to forensically interrogate, document, and collect digital evidence from computers, cell phones, and digital cameras, etc.

Captain Baer’s goal to enhance the department in the future is to obtain grants for capital replacement for items such as radios.

For the past decade, MIPD personnel (officers, as well as civilians) have been involved in the community in a variety of ways, including coaching youth baseball, football or wrestling, mentoring or teaching at various levels, being volunteer firefighters or police officers, participating in community building or clean-up projects, and donating time and experience to local non-profit groups.

Dave Baer demonstrates his pride in the MIPD, and in the local community that supports it, in his statement:

There are five things about MIPD that any Police Chief in the country would be envious of: the support engendered by the community towards the Police Department, our low crime rate, our high crime clearance rate, the depth of experience of agency personnel and the Police Foundation. The Marco Island Police Foundation is an invaluable asset not only to the Police Department, but the community as well. The Foundation provides a valuable link between the community and the Department, increasing communications, and [acting as a] barometer for understanding. Events like the Pig-Roast provide a unique opportunity for officers and Islanders to interact in a non-enforcement format. For over a decade, the Foundation has provided operational support to the Department in the form of volunteers during community events, like Halloween or July 4th celebration, and personal support to Officers and their families in the form of financial assistance during medical emergencies and educational tuition assistance.

Thanks to Captain Dave Baer for providing Coastal Breeze News with this important information.

In the next edition of Coastal Breeze News: meet one of Marco’s Officers, up close and personal.

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