Last week you printed a long letter from Andy Smith, Hudson's former police chief, in which he took issue, in emotional terms, with the selection process for his successor. While the wisdom of his choice of words can be debated, two of his assertions cannot, because they are wrong.
Mr. Smith blames Sgt. Eric Atkinson's unsuccessful bid for the position of police chief on the mayor, Jack Breault, whom he accuses of blocking Atkinson's progress as a candidate. Actually, Smith has reason to know that Sgt. Atkinson was never a viable candidate for police chief, as his work history as a police sergeant for less than a year does not meet the requirements of the job as posted and advertised, which call for a minimum of five years at sergeant rank or higher. These are the same requirements that were set forth when Smith himself applied for the job as chief seven months earlier, so he had to know them. Smith's letter also refers to Hudson's "huge increase in violent crime" -- a claim that Sgt. Atkinson has also been promulgating since he became interim police chief, coupling this with a request for more money for his department.
This is contrary to our own police department records, which show that, in fact, our crime rate numbers have been going down. In 2006, the latest year for which the Hudson police department has issued statistics, the incidence of all crime, per 1,000 population, was the lowest since the start of the new century. It was also the lowest per number of police officers. Last year also saw the lowest number of police calls per 1,000 population in over a decade, and the second lowest number of calls per police officer since 1999.
This same report shows the number of Hudson Type 1 crimes (against persons) in 2006 was below the previous 20-year averages, both per population and per police officer. Far from seeing any increase in crime rates, we've seen decreases. The FBI report on crime, published this September, puts it in perspective: Minneapolis' crime rate is 1.6 percent of the population, St. Paul's .8 percent, and Hudson's .08 percent. That's eight one-hundredths of one percent, one twentieth of the Minneapolis rate.
Both Smith and Atkinson do Hudson a disfavor by pushing a self-serving point of view at the cost of the truth they themselves know.