Smithville police call volumes up 15%

Smithville officer Joe Buchheit, pictured here, is assigned to the Smithville School District tasked with protecting Smithville youth. Buchheit was added to the Smithville School District School Resource Officer team in early 2019 with funding from the city.

SMITHVILLE — With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, Smithville Police Chief Jason Lockridge said calls for officers are up 15% compared to the same time last year.

“Smithville officers have responded to 2,261 calls for service the first half of 2019,” Lockridge said, adding officers responded to 1,963 calls between January and the end of June in 2018 and 1,776 calls across the same timeframe in 2017.

Lockridge attributed population growth in recent years to increased call volumes.

“As more people move to Smithville, we expect to see more calls for service,” he said. To help keep the city safe, the department is currently looking for more employees.

While the amount of calls are increasing, the chief said the types of calls received mostly remain the same.

“The most common calls officers receive include alarms, animal calls, disturbances, thefts and suspicious vehicle/person,” Lockridge said.

To insure officers are ready for calls, all Smithville officers attended lethality training sponsored by Synergy Services. This training, with help from Kansas City Police, helps officers identify potential risk for victims of domestic violence and tries to get them in touch with services to help them break the cycle of violence, Lockridge said.

In addition to added training, Lockridge said the department upgraded in-car and body-worn video equipment, replacing old equipment.

Law enforcement also enacted the Eyes on Smithville initiative to add community resources to crime-solving efforts. This new initiative encourages citizens and businesses with private surveillance cameras to register on a list kept by SPD.

When registered, if a crime occurs in the area that resident has a camera mounted, the department calls them and asks the owner to view their footage for any suspicious behavior, vehicles or people.

Smithville Police do not have access to private cameras otherwise and no one is required to register. In the past and before the initiative was created, the chief said footage from privately-owned surveillance equipment has lead to suspect captures and recovery of stolen property.

With this new program, Lockridge said the police department has acquired dozens of community partners.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.

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