Archive for Thursday, June 2, 2005

Basehor chief makes case for hiring detective

June 2, 2005

Basehor Police Chief Terry Horner believes it's time the city hires a detective for his department.

And Mayor Chris Garcia agrees.

At the most recent city council meeting, Horner pled his case before city officials. And recent vandalism in the Pinehurst development simply strengthens his case, the chief said.

Vandals smashed the 2 1/2-foot-tall steel letters adorning the native limestone roundabout at the entrance to Pinehurst, which is just south of 155th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.

"It was a beautiful display," Horner said.

Vandals used a blunt object to hammer away at the letters, smashing lights that were installed behind them.

"Not only did we have that, but during the day we had in the Pinehurst addition two more reports of criminal damage, as well as a burglary attempt of someone trying to take a fireplace out of one of the homes that was being constructed," Horner said.

The recent growth in Basehor -- both the increase in the number of people in the community and the increase in the number of square miles the city encompasses -- is taxing the police department, he said.

"It's another prime example of the community growing, where we need to start thinking about more patrol officers, as well as a detective," Horner said.

Currently, five full-time officers patrol the city's streets. Their work is augmented by eight part-time officers.

"But they have full-time jobs, and they're on call and work only when we need them," Horner said. "...The part-time staff is a Band-Aid and not a solution."

His patrol officers have little time to spend on investigations -- particularly if they're on the night shift.

"The detective is needed because the lone police officer who we have on duty who is out on the street can't handle the follow-up work," he said. "They're not trained to handle it, and can't do follow-up overnight."

Apparently, Horner's recent presentation to the mayor and city council struck a chord with Basehor's mayor.

Garcia said the police chief is taking a proactive approach, which earns high marks with the mayor.

"I think Chief Horner made a really good presentation, giving the pros and cons to this," Garcia said. "I didn't really see any cons."

He believes that if the city hires a detective, that patrol officers will be able to concentrate on what they were hired to do -- patrol.

At their Monday, June 6 meeting, council members will vote on whether to approve the detective's position, Garcia said. And the police department isn't alone in feeling the effects of growth, he said.

"I think every department is feeling that strain, of the growth," the mayor said.

The police chief estimated the annual cost for hiring a detective would be less than $30,000, plus benefits.

Horner, who in August will celebrate his one-year anniversary as Basehor's police chief, said developers of some of the city's new subdivisions have been hit by vandals and burglars.

"We're getting blasted with construction site thefts," he said. "We're having developers and contractors come in continuously for criminal damage, theft of tools. I had a victim come in last week, a developer, and they took a brand new door that was put in a new-construction home.

"Their trailers are getting broken into, their homes that they're building. We have problems with suspects going in there and taking items, new cabinets, new doors, I've had them take new molding and trim."

Horner guesses that many of those stolen items are ending up in other new homes or in metropolitan Kansas City pawn shops.

"They'll take anything of value," he said.

The chief said the need for additional help isn't something he's ashamed of. It's simply fact, he said.

"We're just spread so thin right now that we can't keep up with everything," he said. "I don't mind saying that. Some people will sit back and Monday morning quarterback and say one officer is enough for the city of Basehor. I'm saying we better start adding officers to the city of Basehor."

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