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Mayor's Blog

Sep 16

Crime Update, Heavy Trash Reminder, Dinner a Verona

Posted on September 16, 2022 at 11:31 AM by David Dickey

It’s always a wonderful Friday when the Chiefs win on Thursday night!

I wanted to update everyone on three items.

First, we still need every resident’s help on crime!  In Monday’s Council Meeting, Chief Roberson reviewed the August statistics, and I am pleased to say the household burglaries are down this year.  Thank you for your vigilance.

I am unhappy to report that the metro-wide uptick in thefts from auto and stolen autos is still a problem for us.  But WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

100% of the LOCKED cars in Mission Hills in August were neither broken into nor stolen.  Said differently, the 8 cars broken into were all unlocked.  The three that were stolen were both unlocked and had the keys in them.

Please LOCK YOUR CAR and DON’T LEAVE THE KEYS IN IT.  When criminals have success, they return.  When they do not have success, they go somewhere else.  Let’s make Mission Hills a place where they have no success.

Second, tomorrow (Saturday, September 17th) is heavy trash day.  Please have your items to the curb by 7am.

Finally, our annual Dinner a Verona event is Saturday, September 24th at 6pm at the Verona Columns.  If you didn’t have a chance to register, you can still bring a picnic and chairs and enjoy the evening!

Thank you all and have a great weekend.

Jun 28

Public Safety Update - 6/27/2022

Posted on June 28, 2022 at 10:18 AM by Jennifer Winfrey

June 27, 2022 


Fellow Residents:

 

In February I wrote you specifically addressing crime and safety in our City.  Now that we are nearly halfway through 2022, I wanted to provide several updates and some good news on this topic.  We still have work to do, and some of that work will never end, but we have made progress.

 

Crime Statistics Update

 

As I noted in the February letter, we had a difficult 2021.  I am pleased to let you know that the first 5 months of 2022 have seen improvements in residential burglaries.  Through May of 2021 there were 13 residential burglaries and through May of 2022 that number dropped to 8.  As many of you have heard me say, “one crime is too many,” but this is progress.

 

We have made less progress on auto theft, but I do have some good news here.  Through May, we had 9 autos stolen in Mission Hills.  All 9 were unlocked with the keys in them.  Three of the vehicles were running.  This number is up from 6 at the same time in 2021.   Modern cars are stunningly hard to steal without the keys, but when unlocked with the keys inside, the thief doesn’t even need to know where those keys are located.  All they need to do is step on the brake, push the starter button and if the car starts, find the keys later.  Please, please, please lock your cars and take the keys inside with you.

 

Our thefts from autos are flat year-over-year.  Of the 9 thefts from auto in 2022, 7 of the vehicles were unlocked.  Again, please lock your cars and keep valuables out of sight.

 

The good news on this front is that our police department just completed a multi-jurisdictional arrest of a serial auto thief responsible for at least 14 crimes in the area during the past year.  Thank you Chief Roberson and team.

 

Camera & License Plate Reader (LPR) Update

 

Four of our camera and/or LPR locations are up and running.  We have 6 locations where installation is complete or substantially complete and are waiting on connectivity or a part before going active.   Our goal is to have them active as soon as possible.  The rest of our locations are scheduled for the remainder of the summer.  

 

In the fall, the Council will evaluate the next wave of installations (priorities 3 and 4).

 

RCAs and Zero Tolerance

 

Chief and his team have continued RCAs (Reducing Criminal Activity) tactics, as well as maintained our zero-tolerance policy during overnight hours.  As a reminder, RCAs are intensive, targeted tactics the department uses to tackle spikes in crime.  Zero tolerance means that if you speed, roll a stop sign, etc. at any time overnight, we will stop you.

 

Commercial Solicitation

As I noted in February, commercial solicitors must now register with the City in advance of soliciting.  Any commercial solicitor who comes to your home should be able to produce a copy of said registration.

 

Additionally, the City now maintains a “No Commercial Solicitation” opt-out list.   You may add your address to this list.   If you are on this list and the police receive a report of commercial solicitation at your home, they can more aggressively address the situation.

 

To add your home to the “No Solicitation” list, please feel free to call City Hall at 913-362-9620, or go to the City’s Solicitation page here:

 

https://www.missionhillsks.gov/380/Solicitation

 

Additional Actions

 

The Council had several very robust discussions with Chief Roberson and the Crime & Safety Committee Chair about adding patrol.  Given the progress in our numbers and other actions, we agreed to re-address this topic later in the year.

 

As previously noted, we have priority 3 and 4 locations identified for additional cameras and LPRs.   Once all priority 1 and 2 locations are up and running, and we fully understand the data and our ability to use these tools, the Council will discuss adding more.

 

Finally, we have had some preliminary discussions about a few infrastructure changes I referenced in February that could possibly help reduce crime and improve safety.

 

We Still Need Your Help!

 

In conclusion, we have made progress, but still have work to do.  Please know you have my and the Council’s pledge to keep this front and center.

 

Remember, you can help and play a key role!

 

Lock Your Car & Keep Valuable Out of Sight

Every one of the vehicles stolen this year have been unlocked with the keys in them.   Please lock your vehicle – every time.   Please take purses, computers and other valuable out of plain sight in your vehicle.

 

Call, Call, Call

Make sure you have the police non-emergency number in your smartphone - 913-642-5151 – preferably in your speed dial.  

 

We are fortunate that our officers can respond to most non-emergency situations, and particularly those that are suspicious but don’t rise to the level of a 911 call.  

 

You should NEVER hesitate to call 913-642-5151 if you see something suspicious or unusual.   Don’t worry, a 911 call will trump a non-emergency call, but you would be amazed at how many suspicious situations turn out to be potential crimes.

 

9pm Routine

Make a habit at 9pm every night of the following:

  • Double check any cars you park outside and remove valuables.

  • Lock any outside cars.

  • Close your garage door (through May of this year, the police have already found 48 open doors, most in the overnight shift!).

  • Make sure your exterior lights are on.

  • Make sure your doors are locked.

  • Turn on your alarm (if you have one).

 

Thank you again.  As always, please don’t hesitate to call City Hall with any questions or email me directly at mayor@missionhillsks.gov.


Sincerely,
David W. Dickey
Mayor

Feb 24

Public Safety Update - 2/16/2022

Posted on February 24, 2022 at 11:49 AM by Jennifer Winfrey

February 16, 2022
 

Fellow Residents: 

I wanted to talk with everyone specifically and exclusively about Public Safety in Mission Hills. 

I led off the October newsletter emphasizing that Public Safety is the most important job the Council, Police and Fire Departments, staff and I have in serving you. Some of you have heard me say previously that any crime is too many, and I still believe that. 


The bulk of this letter will focus on crime: 

    What happened in 2021?
    What actions/activities we have already taken.
    What actions/activities are in process and being assessed.
    What you can do to help.
What we experienced in Mission Hills in 2021 - to be exceedingly blunt - was a bad year. Our Kansas neighbors struggled with some of the same challenges we did. But that is no excuse - we must do better, and we will. 

What Happened in 2021? 

In the October City Newsletter, I talked about how "the truth has to be good enough." 

The chart below summarizes the key categories of crime in Mission Hills over the last four years. The jump in 2021 is startling; and while 2020 is an aberrational comparison year, we were above 2018 and 2019 in most key categories. For the full year 2021 statistics, please see the updated annual report at this link: 

https://www.missionhillsks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7558/2022-02-14-City-Council-Packet-


2021

2020

2019

2018

Burglary

25

4

14

12

Theft

55

44

34

47

Auto Theft

15

10

10

8


I do, however, want to put our challenges in perspective. Even with our lousy 2021, we are still among the safest cities in Kansas and the metro area. Nonetheless, we still have to do better. 

October Incident 

We had a frightening incident at the Verona Columns in October. A resident out on their early morning walk was attacked by two assailants. The resident escaped and ran, and shots were fired. I touched on this in the fall newsletter, but wanted to address it again. 

Earlier that same morning, those two assailants were reported throwing debris at a bicyclist and breaking the window of a car in our City - they took nothing. The investigation is still active and ongoing. 

Prior to this incident, several tactics had been executed to address the spike. Immediately following, additional actions were taken as I will detail below. 

What Actions Have Been Taken?

RCAs 

Reducing Criminal Activities (RCAs) are intensive, targeted tactics the department uses to tackle spikes and incidences like October. The police had been working on several RCAs and accelerated them in November and December. Examples of RCAs include increased patrols, undercover actions and zero tolerance during certain hours of the night. 

Public Safety Summit 

The full Council, Police Chief and his command staff, Fire Chief and his deputy, City Administrator and Assistant City Administrator and Crime & Safety Chair held our second Public Safety Summit in November. 

Chief Roberson gave a summary of the RCA activity as well as other work ongoing to address the crime issue. Fire Chief Chick talked about the department's continued readiness. Staff gave overviews of our key emergency plans for natural disasters and weather. 

Cameras & LPRs 

Two cameras and two license plate readers (LPRs) had been approved for installation at major intersections in the City prior to October. In December, the Council unanimously approved the installation of 15 additional cameras and 12 LPRs based on an analysis done by Captain Ivan Washington. These cameras and LPRs will be installed at all locations that the Captain identified as priority one or two. The units, which have been on backorder, will be installed over the next few weeks. 

Commercial Solicitation 

The Council passed new legislation to address some of the aggressive commercial solicitation we had seen accelerate in 2020 and again in 2021. 

First, commercial solicitors must now register with the City in advance of soliciting. Any commercial solicitor who comes to your home should be able to produce a copy of said registration. 

Second, the City now maintains a "No Commercial Solicitation" opt-out list. You may add your address to this list. If you are on this list and the police receive a report of commercial solicitation at your home, they can more aggressively address the situation. 

To add your home to the "No Solicitation" list, please feel free to call City Hall at 913-362-9620, or go to the City's Solicitation page here: 

https://www.missionhillsks.gov/380/Solicitation

Coffee with a Cop 

Finally, in November, the Police Command Staff and City hosted "Coffee with a Cop" at the Verona Columns to talk with residents about their concerns. Thank you to those who attended! 

What is Being Evaluated 

Additional Officers/Patrol Cars 

The Council was presented with a preliminary proposal and costs to add two additional officers to staff as well as one additional patrol car. These would be focused on the overnight hours when most of our crime occurs. 

Additional Cameras & LPRs 

Captain Washington's assessment had priority three and four locations for additional cameras and LPRs. As soon as our priority one and two locations are installed, working and optimized, the Council will discuss the need to add more. 

Physical Infrastructure Changes 

Two decades ago, the City assessed changes to street configurations to limit ingress. We will be re-evaluating those options. 

How Can You Help? 

Lock Your Car & Keep Valuable Out of Sight 

85% of the vehicles stolen are unlocked with the keys in them. Please lock your vehicle - every time. Please take purses, computers and other valuable out of plain sight in your vehicle. 

Call, Call, Call 

If you don't have 913-642-5151 in your smartphone's speed dial, please add it right now. 


Seriously. 

This is the Mission Hills/Prairie Village non-emergency police dispatch center line. We are fortunate that our officers can respond to most non-emergency situations, and particularly those that are suspicious but don't rise to the level of a 911 call. 

You should NEVER hesitate to call 913-642-5151 if you see something suspicious or unusual. Don't worry, a 911 call will trump a non-emergency call, but you would be amazed at how many suspicious situations turn out to be potential crimes. 

Did you add the number to your speed dial? :-) Thank you. 

9pm Routine 

As outlined in the Fall Newsletter, make a habit at 9pm every night of the following: 
    Double check any cars you park outside and remove valuables.
    Lock any outside cars.
    Close your garage door (in 2021 the police found 152 open doors, most in the overnight shift!).
    Make sure your exterior lights are on.
    Make sure your doors are locked.
    Turn on your alarm (if you have one).

In Conclusion 

I want to end with three quick thoughts. 

First, we will make this better. There is no silver bullet. Public Safety requires constant, multi-pronged hard work by all of us. 

Second, Chief Roberson and his Command Staff, our City Administrator and I had the opportunity to meet with two residents over lunch last week to discuss Crime & Safety. One was the resident assaulted in October. I want to thank them (and all of you who have provided feedback). Resident feedback and engagement are something that makes our City exceptional and help us get better. 

Finally, I want to leave you with some quotes from a letter former Mayor Betty Keim sent to all Mission Hills residents on June 23, 2000. Her letter opened as follows: 

"Mission Hills has been experiencing an increase in crime, particularly in the corridor along State Line Road." 

Her penultimate paragraph reads as follows: 

"Let's foster a reputation that Mission Hills is the last place criminals want to come for crime." 

Her words are just as true twenty years later. This is our top priority, and every resident can help. Thank you in advance. As always, please don't hesitate to call City Hall with any questions or email me directly at mayor@missionhillsks.gov. 

Sincerely,
David W. Dickey
Mayor