Arrests and police visits were down last year while accidents were up, according to Natick police.
Lt. Brian Grassey, the department's spokesman, said that in 2010, there was a 6.8 percent decrease from the 2009 level in calls requesting police assistance, and 24 percent fewer arrests. In 2010, Natick police made 1,162 arrests while in 2009, police made 1,533 arrests.
At the same time, the number of motor vehicle accidents in town spiked 7.8 percent from 821 in 2009 to 881 in 2010.
Grassey said the drop in calls is attributable to a couple of factors. In Oct. 2009, the Natick Police Department instituted new guidelines that encourage stores at the Natick Collection to handle shoplifting cases under $100 by themselves. Instead of the police being on the hook for storing evidence and appearing at court dates, stores issue private summons and shoulder the bulk of the labor for filing complaints.
Grassey said police calls average between 45 minutes and an hour, plus the time needed to record evidence, and then appear in court. This means that before the new guidelines, a $20 theft could equal $600 to $800 in police work.
The lighter volume of calls frees up police to concentrate on other things like traffic enforcement and availability for more serious incidents, said Grassey.
Another change in the Police Department was the introduction of online reporting. Grassey said 13 percent or 301 complaints came through the online system that was introduced in 2010.
Megan McKee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.