New Springville police chief sworn in 04

Newly-instated Springville Police Chief Craig Martinez greets a Springville firefighter after a swearing-in ceremony for the former Orem public information officer Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at the Springville Civic Center. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The community likely recognizes the new face taking the helm of the Springville Department of Public Safety.

Craig Martinez, as the public information officer of the Orem Police Department, was an active part of promoting and being a voice for the department. Whether he was taking part in kid’s camp over the summer or delivering a press conference on a string of suspicious arsons, Martinez is one we look to when we think of transparency with the community and with the media.

Our reporters, particularly our crime reporter at the Daily Herald, were excited to hear of Martinez’s promotion. Not just for the fact that we enjoy having those “I know him when…” kind of stories. After all, Martinez was a sergeant just five years ago. Our staff was optimistic because of how Martinez represents an open dialogue between the city and those who protect it.

When many think of Springville, they think of a quiet city at the base of Hobble Creek Canyon. And for good reason. Springville has a wonderful arts program, excellent schools and can easily be described as one of the friendliest communities in the county.

But Springville has its fair share of crimes as well. According to the 2017 Crime in Utah report prepared by the Utah Department of Public Safety, Springville saw 722 index crimes. Index crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Springville averaged 21.69 index crimes per 1,000 people. To compare, the county as a whole averaged only 15.84 index crimes per 1,000 people. Only American Fork, Lindon and Orem had higher crime rates, at 23.81, 25.07 and 21.33 respectively. Cities of comparable sizes to Springville, like Spanish Fork, Pleasant Grove and Saratoga Springs, had crime rates half that, or even smaller.

This is not to paint the picture of Springville as a den of thieves or a hive of criminals. We also do not want to speculate as to why the crime rates in this bedrock community are higher than that of the county average. Our job is to report, not speculate. However, we also want the next leader of the Springville police officers to be realistic in understanding that crimes happen in the city and issues need to be addressed.

We believe Martinez is a capable man for the job to find solutions to mitigate the crime rates in the city. Martinez has been very open and interactive in other communities, and we would be surprised if we don’t hear of a new means of improving the Springville Department of Public Safety within the next few months.

We also hope that this transparency brings honesty. We do not want issues to be brushed under the rug. We believe that as matters are exposed and brought to light, they can be better dealt with. We hope that Martinez’s leadership means honesty about the violent and serious crimes that affect the residents of Springville.

Ultimately, these numbers reported to the FBI annually are lives and people. Seven rapes were reported and five aggravated assaults were reported in Springville in 2017. We suspect many more crimes of this and other natures go unreported every day. Violent crimes like these shatter lives and must be talked about in an open, honest discourse if any solutions to abate and minimize the damages incurred by these crimes are expected.

Martinez is, from our interactions with him, a fantastic police officer. He’s known for some hilarious antics on Facebook, and based on what we’ve seen on social media already, Springville residents are excited for his enthusiastic personality to represent the department. We ask Chief Martinez to continue his attitude of clarity he brings from Orem to Springville to help all to be educated and aware of their community.

Good luck, Chief Martinez, on the new post and the new opportunity afforded to you.