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Mayor's Blog

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

Nov 03

Public Safety Update - 11/4 Coffee with a Cop, October Shooting Update, Sign-Up for Notify JoCo

Posted on November 3, 2021 at 8:53 PM by David Dickey

Fellow Residents:

Because it is time sensitive, I want to remind everyone that our next Coffee with a Cop is tomorrow (Thursday, 11/4) from 8-10am.  Chief Roberson and several members of his command staff will be there to talk, answer questions and get to know you!  Please stop by the Verona Columns if you can.

Secondly, the investigation into the shooting incident on October 4th continues aggressively.  Captain Sullivan updated Council today in our City Safety Summit, but please know that warrants, subpoenas and other investigative work continues with vigor.  

As noted above, we held a City Safety Summit today.  Attendees included:

    The full Council

    Police Chief Roberson and his command staff

    Fire Chief Chick and his deputy chief

    Mission Hills City Administrator Jennifer Lee and Assistant City Administrator Justin Carroll

    Crime & Safety Committee Chair Tim McQuaid

We reviewed every major area of public safety that could impact our City – shootings, tornados, fires, floods, and more.  We are planning a more comprehensive letter to all residents, but the quick summary is that we have exceptional support from the police, fire department and our staff.  And importantly, they have deep, robust relationships with all regional and national agencies to provide additional resources should the need arise.

Finally, and I will elaborate on this more in the aforementioned letter, Notify JoCo is the BEST way to stay informed on public safety.  If you have not, please sign up at this link:

https://www.notifyjoco.org

If you have signed up, remember that you can change your preferences on which notifications you receive at any time (public safety, general messages, waste collection, etc.).  You are in control of what you receive.  I encourage you to sign up!

Finally, as I said in this month's newsletter, if you see something, call.  The non-emergency dispatch number is 913-642-5151.  We have the resources to respond to almost all calls, so if something just does not feel right, call it in.

Thank you for the continued feedback.  As always, do not hesitate to reach out to the PV police (see number above), City Hall - 913-362-9620 or email info@missionhillsks.gov - , or me directly at mayor@missionhillsks.gov. 

Thanks again!

Oct 04

Verona Columns Incident Update 10/4/21

Posted on October 4, 2021 at 8:34 PM by David Dickey

Fellow Residents:

 

Public safety will always be THE top priority in our City.  It pains me to write this tonight, but we had a violent, frightening incident this morning that I want to address head-on.

 

Early this morning, just before sunrise, one of our residents was assaulted by two armed assailants at the Verona Columns during his morning walk.  I first want to wish the best for this resident as he recovers from the physical and psychological events this morning.  Transparently, the assailants fired two shots that, thankfully, missed.

 

The full police press release can be found HERE.

 

Our police are actively and aggressively working this event.  It is believed that these same assailants threw debris at a cyclist just before the incident in question (the car’s description matches), and there is speculation that several auto burglaries that occurred last night/this morning may have been carried out by this same duo.

 

If you have ANY information that may be helpful to the investigation, please call 913-642-5151, the PV police non-emergency number), and report it.  Video is also welcome!

 

You have the Council’s, police department’s, staff’s and my commitment to communicate fully and openly about this incident.  We want Mission Hills to continue to be the safest community in the metro area – period.

 

Do not hesitate to reach out to the PV police (see number above), City Hall (913-362-9620 or email info@missionhillsks.gov).  or me directly at mayor@missionhillsks.gov.

 

Thank you for your support and vigilance.