Archive for Thursday, January 20, 2005

Serious crime declines in De Soto, traffic citations increase in 2004

January 20, 2005

Criminal activity declined in De Soto for the third-straight year while motor vehicle citations continued to increase in the city, Johnson County Sheriff's Department figures indicate.

Mark Lieker, De Soto's community policing officer, released final figures Tuesday of the sheriff's department's 2004 activity in De Soto. The report tracks the activity in two categories, felonies and serious misdemeanor offenses charged through Johnson County District Court and misdemeanors charged to De Soto Municipal Court. Offenses forwarded to district court include battery, murder rape and other violent crimes, arson or serious crimes against property.

Non-felony citations handled in municipal court include such things as most traffic citations, disorderly conduct and liquor law violations.

A review of the activity seemed to indicate De Soto was seeing less criminal activity, Lieker said. Not only did serious crime decline 11 percent in 2004, but officers were called out fewer times for such things as suspected prowlers and trespassers. Those response calls fell from 1,678 to 1,463.

The decline in serious crime and response calls wasn't associated with a larger law enforcement presence in the city, Lieker said. Just the contrary, it came during a year when the city dropped the so-called power shift presence, which placed an added officer in De Soto for 40 hours a week.

"I honestly believe De Soto had a relatively quiet year," Lieker said. "With the reported items, I don't know if the power shift would have made any difference."

The power shift was restarted at the first of the year. In addition, an officer was permanently assigned to De Soto since Jan. 1, Lieker said.

Deputies kept the De Soto Municipal Court busy by issuing more than twice as many traffic and minor offenses in 2004 (1,763) than in 2003 (881). Speed topped the list of such citations with 672 speeding tickets in De Soto in 2004, compared to 408 the year before.

What made a difference was the aggressive attitude officers assigned to De Soto brought to traffic enforcement, Lieker said. That didn't necessarily mean De Soto residents were getting more citations because many tickets were issued on the De Soto portion of Kansas Highway 10, he said.

Drunk driving citations stayed steady with only one more being issued in 2004 than the 14 issued in 2003.

Officers also enforced two safety measures, issuing 126 tickets for improper seat belts -- up from zero in 2003 -- and 15 improper child restraint tickets, an increase of six from 2003.

De Soto's streets were safer, the report shows. There were 103 accidents reported in the city in 2004, 11 fewer than 2003. There were no fatal accidents (there was in the previous year), and the eight injury accidents were five fewer than the years before.

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