Hailey COVID Patrol

Overall, calls for police service increased by over 1,000 last year, partially because of the rise in calls to the Hailey Police Department’s free prescription delivery service offered at the start of the pandemic and other requests for assistance.

Traffic collisions in Hailey last year were down about 40% and DUIs were down 28% compared to 2019, according to a 2020 statistical review presented by Police Chief Steve England on Monday.

Arrests also decreased around 2%, from 366 in 2019 to 359 in 2020.

Overall, calls for service increased by over 1,000 last year, he said, from 7,451 in 2019 to 8,461 in 2020. England partially attributed the rise in calls to the department’s free prescription delivery service offered at the start of the pandemic and other requests for assistance.

“Even though we were in slack-type conditions from pretty much mid-March through the rest of the year, I do believe our community outreach programs made a difference in our calls for service,” he said.

Twenty-eight percent more traffic stops were conducted in 2020 versus 2019, England said3,141 last year compared to 2,449 in 2019.

“My philosophy … is if we make a lot of traffic stops and keep our reds and blues rolling, then enforcement will come,” he said. “In most traffic stops we were [emphasizing] awareness, and officers were not necessarily writing $90 tickets.”

England also looked at data from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, 2021, and compared it to data from that same time window in 2020. Citations in 2021 were down by about 40 from 2020, he said, and reported instances of distracted driving were down 17%.

“Sometimes there’s not really a ‘why’ for these trends,” he said.

As for the fewer DUIs and traffic collisions recorded in 2020, England said those trends could be chalked up to “a substantial decrease in traffic flow and fewer establishments open.”

“Nightlife in Hailey was nil,” he said.

One more recent, troubling trend has been speeding in high-pedestrian areas, England said. The chief has never taken more calls about traffic complaints in his “23 years in law enforcement,” he noted.

“People really want to see the traffic slowed down coming into town. In these [speeding] cases, our guys and gals are out there very much enforcing that, issuing actual citations and not just warnings,” he said.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com