SMITHVILLE — While the overall numbers of police reports decreased in 2019 compared to the year before, violent crime, which includes crimes like assault, and traffic incidents were up in Smithville in 2019.

According to Police Chief Jason Lockridge, there were 24 violent crime reports compared to 11 in 2018.

“We attribute part of this change to population growth in Smithville,” he said, adding training has better equipped officers to see signs of and investigate certain crimes, leading to more reports.

“We have also conducted training in domestic violence lethality assessment for our patrol officers, and our detectives have been to training to better obtain statements from victims and witnesses. Only four of these cases remain active and one is awaiting results from the crime lab.”

Also up in 2019 were traffic tickets. Data shows there were 2,301 tickets issued last year compared to 1,513 in 2018. The chief said the numbers are a bit deceiving.

“With the transfer of our municipal court to (Clay County) Circuit Court District 7 in Liberty, there were many cases that were refiled, requiring new citations to be issued and filed with the court. Thus, they are counted twice,” he said. “… Our best estimates are that approximately 450 cases were refiled with the transfer.”

Taking that into consideration, Lockridge said there were actually about 1,550 tickets issued in 2019.

As far as other crime, Lockridge said calls remained relatively the same. There were four more cases of property damage in 2019 compared to the year before. Reports of burglary were down by two cases.

A highlight for the department was the decrease in theft calls, which went from 121 in 2018 to 88 in 2019.

“This past year we made a conscious effort to inform the public about the need to lock their vehicles and homes. We hope this helped lead to the decline in theft calls,” Lockridge said. “Officers also made an effort to contact homeowners when they found open garage doors during night shifts.”

For 2020, Lockridge said short-term goals include filling two vacant positions, making the police force 20 officers strong. Additionally, the department plans to host its second citizens academy and junior police academy later this year, where those participating learn about what it is like on the job as a police officer and experiment with some of the equipment officers use.

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

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