Roeland Park police credit crime prevention tactics with reduced incidents in business district

Roeland Park’s business district experienced a 24.5 percent decline in crime incidents from January through July 2018 following implementation of a Crime Prevention Initiative, police officials reported this week.

The initiative focused on crime prevention around businesses like Walmart and Lowe’s.
The findings compared crime stats from Jan. 1 through June 30 of 2018 to stats during the same time period in 2017, with the business district experiencing 253 incidents in 2017 and 191 incidents in 2018.

The $7,500 initiative placed officers in the business district for 10 hours per week with rotating times and locations, with a special focus on Lowe’s, Price Chopper, and Walmart. Funds went toward paying officers’ overtime. The city also utilized a donated Ford Mustang “Retail Crime Enforcement Unit” to demonstrate police presence.

Chief of Police John Morris called the crime decrease “dramatic.”

“We’re pretty pleased with how it worked,” Morris said.
Morris said the decline in incident and report writing within the business district allowed officers to spend more time patrolling the streets and maintaining visibility in the community.

The city’s business district is defined as all stores and parking lots on both sides of Roe Boulevard between 48th Street and 52nd Terrace. When excluding incidents from Lowe’s, Price Chopper, and Walmart, crime declined by 44 percent during the initiative.

Councilmember Tim Janssen said he would be interested in hearing feedback from the business district on the initiative.

City administrator Keith Moody agreed with Janssen and said he would like to meet with businesses and see if they noticed a decline in property loss. Moody said businesses may find it could be worth splitting the $7,500 cost to continue expanded police presence.