Liberty police numbers decline in first six months of 2019

LIBERTY — In the first six months of 2019, Liberty Police Department has responded to about 1,100 less calls than in same timefame in 2018. In 2018, total calls for service from January to June totaled 15,977 compared to 14,839 this year.

Part of the decline is a noticeable dip in calls along the Kansas Street corridor, which had one accident in June. Police officials said the demolition of the Missouri Highway 152 bridge on May 31 was a contributing factor. In May of this year, there were eight accidents in the area. Last year, accidents numbered 27 in May and June.

“In truth, total calls for service can fluctuate because of various factors,” said Capt. Andy Hedrick, the department’s public information officer. “Police stats can be affected by weather and the bridge.”

Hedrick said the day-to-day analysis gives a closer examination of the types of crime being reported.

“We can see those red flags if a particular neighborhood has a rash of auto larcenies,” he said. “We notice those incidents quickly.”

With the alternate travel routes in effect after the bridge came down, Hedrick said department personnel are paying attention to areas where traffic has increased such as South Liberty Parkway and Missouri Highway 291.

“I would bet that the third quarter catches back up, especially if the bridge opens again,” Hedrick said. “(Incidents) could come from people getting used to the new roadway configuration.”

Other types of call volumes are holding steady from 2018 to 2019 with a few decreases. Vandalism has decreased from 47 incidents the first six months of 2018 to 20 incidents the first six months of 2019. Total accidents are also down from 251 in 2018 to 229 in 2019.

As far as new equipment, officers will be receiving body cameras by the end of the summer. The Liberty City Council approved the purchase in December. Installation will require work by the city’s IT department and officer training will also take place, Hedrick said.

Sgt. Heather Massey said the department is also sending officers to Kansas City Regional Center’s Terrorism Response Training.

“We are looking at training officers on ambush and active shooter training,” she said. “It’s high stress and quick responses. We are trying to get all the officers through the training as quickly as possible. They are taking this training on their days off. If something major happens, we can work with the other departments who have sent officers as well. In serious situations, the same training allows us to respond the same way. We all want to be prepared.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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