More cops, yet higher crime rates in 2012

HERMISTON, Or. -- KEPR is always tracking the latest crime statistics in your neighborhood. And while they say numbers don't lie, they can be skewed dramatically. In Hermistion, a higher crime rate, could actually mean a safer community. It's a similar result in Kenenwick.

Hermiston's Chief of Police is always looking closely at the crime numbers in his community. And to most of us, the report might sound like bad news.

He says, "We're looking at a 400% increase in arson this year compared to last year, Our auto theft is higher and we also see a higher than average property crimes trend."

But Chief Edmiston has a reason to be proud of these numbers.

Edmiston continues, "The more officers you have on the street, the higher your crime rate's gonna be."

The Hermiston police department hired three additional officers just this year. So their increase doesn't necessarily mean more crimes are being committed, but more criminals getting caught.

The situation is similar here in the Tri-Cities. Kennewick P.D. hired 4 new officers last year and made 84 more felony arrests year to year.

The reports are piling up, but officers say saying they are able to do their job better.

Officer Bryan Maess tells KEPR, "Freed us up to do other things that we're supposed to do, out on the streets."

More proactive work can be done instead of all the officers on duty going from call to call to call.

Maess says, "We have the opportunity to take one or two bodies and focus them on our problem areas."

With dwindling budgets, they now hope the increased staff can keep up with the growing community , even if it means high crime rates next year, too.

We also learned Hermiston's adding a traffic enforcement officer solely assigned to Highway-395 in hopes of reducing accidents.