Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Calls for service outpacing last year

Increasing caseload highlights need for more officers, police chief says

October 13, 2005

A recent call for service from a Basehor resident to the police department went unanswered for days before it received attention. And it was only at the prompting of the caller in need, that it received attention at all.

"A citizen called and the officer never showed up," police chief Terry Horner said. "Only one officer was on duty and he had three calls for service waiting."

Luckily, the call missed by the police department was a non-emergency one. However, the example cites a growing problem for the police department: handling an ever-increasing caseload with its present number of officers on duty.

Calls for service to the police department are up 54 percent so far this year, compared with the same period in 2004, according to crime statistics compiled and released by the department this week.

During the first nine months of 2005, local police officers have filed reports on 835 calls; the total for all of last year was 381 calls.

The police department has seen an increase in nearly every statistical crime category in 2005 against those in 2004. According to the statistics:

¢ Criminal activity cases have increased by 46 percent.

¢ Juvenile cases have increased by 55 percent.

¢ Animal control cases have increased by 63 percent.

¢ Domestic violence cases have increased by 33 percent (see related story, this page).

¢ Responding to traffic accidents have increased by 35 percent.

The only area where the police department has not seen an increase is in the number of suspects arrested and transported to the Leavenworth County Jail. Statistics say 60 suspects have been arrested and transported to the jail in 2005; last year, officers detained 67 suspects. Those numbers translate to an 11 percent decrease.

Horner attributed the decrease to a heightened effort by the police department to write citations under Basehor municipal laws rather than state laws. The police department has made this effort in lieu of taking people to jail, the police chief said, when situations are appropriate.

Writing citations under city laws rather than state ones, allows the police department to charge offenders in municipal court instead of county district court. It also allows revenue from fines to stay in the city. The move also keeps officers on patrol in Basehor because they don't have to transport suspects to the jail in Leavenworth, Horner said.

The police department has been fielding calls from Basehor residents seeking expanded police coverage of the city, investigator Lloyd Martley said.

"We've received numerous calls from citizens that want additional officers put on the streets," Martley said. Some, he said, want two officers on duty, per shift, each day.

Currently, two officers per shift are on duty on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Throughout its 2006 budget process, the Basehor City Council authorized the police department's hiring of two additional full-time officers at the beginning of next year. Horner said more officers will benefit both the police department and the city it protects.

"I truly feel the city council did the right thing when it approved hiring two more officers," the police chief said. "It's going to make our community a safer place to live."

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