By Mallory Ragon
The Crime Reduction Team (CRT) of the Lee’s Summit Police Department gave a presentation to the city council during their regular session on Thursday. Police Chief Joseph Piccinini introduced the presentation by saying that over the last six years, the department has had a focus on community policing and has challenged the force with developing innovative ways to reduce crime.
Officer Brad Anders described for the council the CRT’s establishment in 2011 as a way to target crime near Sage Crossing. The area, near M-291 Highway and Chipman Road, is bounded by Chipman Road, Orchard Street, Lynn Street and Magellan Avenue. It has been targeted by the CRT for its violent crime, burglary and aggravated assault.
The CRT consists of three patrol officers and one sergeant, who have been trained in crime scene processing, informant handling, problem-oriented policing, and investigations and case management.
They are driven by four main principles: accountability, collaboration, decentralization and problem solving. They were tasked with taking ownership of the district by taking all calls from the area and forming relationships with the residents. The officers went door-to-door with their business cards and sent out a survey questionnaire regarding safety perceptions.
"It’s easy to think you know what the major problems are in an area," Anders said, "until you go out and knock on doors and ask the community, ‘What do you see?’"
In the last year there have been 148 drug arrests and the seizure of 22 pounds of marijuana, 72.4 grams of methamphetamines, 50 grams of bath salts and K2, as well as PCP, heroin, ecstasy, and countless prescription pills. Nine handguns were seized, three stolen autos recovered and 41 search warrants served.
Councilmember Brian Whitley applauded the team for their efforts. "This really appears to be diffusion rather than displacement [of crime]," he said.
Mayor Randy Rhoads agreed. "I commend you on the project and look forward to expansion of the project," he said.
The department is working on expansion of the project through the creation of the Lee’s Summit Landlord Association, a similar team for the Country Meadows subdivision, and the possibility of a citywide initiative.