Lately the dogs - and not the criminals - have been giving Alpine's police force a bad time.

Acting Police Chief Dave McManus presented the Police Department's annual report to the City Council Tuesday night. Overall, the number of crimes in Alpine in 1990 was lower than in 1989, McManus said. However, the council spent some time discussing ongoing problems with "loose, too many and noisy" dogs.According to the report, animal-control problems rank third in number of incidents - right behind making welfare checks (328 cases) and issuing traffic citations (226). Welfare checks may include checking a home while the owners are out of town, checking on a business or on the welfare of a person.

During 1990, Alpine officers recorded 211 complaints about animals, chiefly dogs. Under city code, residents are required to have a kennel license if they have more than two dogs. However, the city quit issuing the $100 kennel licenses because it received so many complaints about residents keeping that many dogs.

The city may take a second look at enforcing and revamping the kennel license requirement, however, because of the continuing dog problem. And, council members suggested the city may need to hire an animal-control officer, freeing regular officers to take care of other matters.In general, the annual police report contained good news for Alpine. Crimes are down and morale in the department is up since the city's former police chief left, McManus said.

The work atmosphere has improved, the officers talk to each other more and seem to enjoy coming to work now, he said.

"I think the department as it stands now is doing a very good job," McManus said.

City officials have narrowed the search for a new police chief from 30 applicants to three candidates. Mayor Elaine Barnes said the city hopes to select the new chief by Feb. 1.

The new chief will be taking charge of a fairly crime-free city. In 1990, there were about 1,600 crimes and other incidents involving police in Alpine, compared to 1,900 the year before. Most crimes reported were misdemeanors.

As far as crimes were concerned, there were no reported cases of murder, rape, robbery or motor vehicle theft in Alpine during 1990. There were 51 cases of larceny, 22 burglaries and six assaults. All of these are considered Part I or felony crimes.

In the misdemeanor category, Alpine officers handled 501 miscellaneous offenses: noise disturbances, civil problems, illegal possession of alcohol, reports of suspicious persons or vehicles, family disputes and reports of missing persons, etc. Animal-control incidents are also included in the miscellaneous category.

Also in the misdemeanor category: 31 cases of criminal mischief and five violations of narcotic drug laws.

There were a total of 36 traffic accidents in Alpine during 1990. Four of those accidents involved injuries.

McManus said he expects crime statistics to continue their downward trend in 1991. Patrols are being stepped up and the department plans to start neighborhood watch programs to ensure that happens.