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Officer visibility key in
keeping crime rate down

by Kim Fickett
Landmark editor

For the Platte City Police De-partment, the number of officers placed on the 30-miles of roadway across the city and the increased visibility of those officers seem to be the key reasons for low numbers in the city's crime totals.

According to Police Chief Bill Massock, during the year 2001, the nine patrol officers on duty drove 72,000 miles. The miles driven by the officers increased by 1,000 since 2000, and 19,000 miles since 1999.

"There's been quite an increase in coverage as far as officers out on the road and being more visible by the public," stated Massock. "The officers are attempting to make themselves more visible throughout the city on all shifts."

Massock stated that each shift employs three patrol officers, along with the department employing a detective, an SRO (school resource officer) and himself.

That increased visibility of the officers in the night shift has become a benefit not only for residents of the city but also the business owners.

"In connection to the increased coverage by our officers, the evening patrol officers have employed a routine of driving by businesses and checking for open doors," explained Massock. "The combination of both of these acts has resulted in fewer burglaries."

Massock stated that during the evening shift, the number of open doors his patrol officers have found has taken a dramatic jump from 1999 to 2001. In 1999, officers found 41 business doors left open, in 2000 there were 94 and in 2001, 113 were found unlocked.

In 2001, burglaries overall decreased by 48 percent from 25 to 14. Massock explained that the profound stats of burglaries in 2000 was due to numerous cases during the summer of that year involving juveniles.

"It didn't amount to much in items taken, mostly monetary items, but it does explain the stats we saw in 2000," said Massock.

One key point Massock is proud of in his department is the number of warnings issued by his officers.

In 2001, officers issued 1,600 warnings and 828 citations, compared to 2000, where they issued 1,451 warnings and 670 citations.

"In our opinion, the goal of traffic enforcement is to control traffic and reduce the number of accidents. Not to see how many tickets can be written," stated Massock.

Massock continued that with Platte City being such a transient city— with I-29 and a major highway running through the center of town— that as vehicular traffic continues to increase, so will the number of warnings and citations issued.

In association with the number of traffic stops made by the department, narcotics stops have also increased from 36 in 2000 to 50 in 2001.

"As car stops increase, we'll also see the numbers go up in this area, since most seizures come from car stops," said Massock.

Massock also explained that the most common misdemeanor crime in Platte City, stealing under $750, has also been on a slow downslide over the past few years.

In 1999, the police department received 155 calls compared to 2001's 124 calls.

"This is also accredited to the officers visibility, which impacts a lot of things like stealing or crimes of opportunity," stated Massock. "Our hope is that with opportunities, there will be fewer incidents."

According to Massock, when comparing the overall statistics for 2001, he is pleased with where the City of Platte City stands.

"When you look at the seven major crimes the nation chooses to track, we don't have many of those. If that's the yard stick you to choose to use, then yes we're in pretty good shape," said Massock.

Those seven major crimes include: homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

In 2001, Platte City experienced zero homicides, one rape, zero robberies, 50 assaults, 14 burglaries, 98 larcenies, and nine auto thefts, Massock said.