As Lee’s Summit Police Chief sets to retire, overall crime is down

tporter@lsjournal.comJanuary 15, 2014 

  • 75,325

    Total number of calls for service to the Lee’s Summit Police department in 2013 compared to 81,327 in 2012 and 88,859 in 2011.

Retiring Lee’s Summit Police Chief Joe Piccinini could take a bulk of the credit for an overall trend in crime that has steadily declined in the last few years.

Piccinini has hung his hat on a community policing strategy that has yielded the results he looked for when he pushed for the initiative: Overall crime in Lee’s Summit is down. Piccinini could even take a bow for the lower crime rates, but instead he heaped praise on others involved with the fight against crime in the city.

“It’s the police department working with the citizens that helps keep our crime rates so low,” Piccinini said Jan. 13. The 30-year veteran of the LSPD retires Jan. 17 and will go out in style that day with a ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. at Gamber Center. “Heavy police presence will disperse the problem for a time period, but when the police leave often times the problems come back. One of the things we wanted to do as a police department was find solutions to problems.

“Before we leave the area we want to work on finding solutions to some of the problems that occur. We want to go in there and be visible and work with the people that live in the area and we also want to come up with solutions before we move on to other areas.”

According to preliminary numbers provided by the department, the total criminal offenses in the city during 2013 were 5,187 compared to 5,951 in 2012 and 5,736 the year before.

Chief among the lower crime statistics is for the third consecutive calendar year, the city did not record a homicide.

“We’re very fortunate here in Lee’s Summit,” Piccinini said. The last homicide recorded in the city was in January of 2010, so in actuality there has not been a homicide in Lee’s Summit for nearly four years. “We have crime stats that other cities our size would be very jealous to have. Going another year without a homicide; again we are just so very fortunate here that we’ve been able to achieve that. Not a lot of cities can say that.”

Some crime categories were up, however, including forcible rape/sodomy with 16 recorded in 2013 and just 11 the previous year; stealing over $500 (519 cases in 2013 compared to 485 in 2012) that brought forth state charges; and business burglaries, which rose in 2013 to 67 compared to 54 in 2012 and 44 the year before.

Lee’s Summit Police Major Curtis Mansell said the business burglaries were higher because of the rise of break-ins in wireless phone stores not only in Lee’s Summit, but metro-area wide.

“From April (of 2013) to July, the metro area was kind of experiencing quite a few cell phone store burglaries,” Mansell said. “I think it involved over 30 stores metro-wide. We were able to identify a possible suspect and we put together a task force from other cities and started following the suspect around. We were able to identify other suspects and we were able to get some people charged. Four of our six cell phone burglaries were able to be cleared. We suspect him of the other two, but were unable to prove it. That added to the uptick in our business burglaries”

Trends on the other end of the spectrum including a decline in crimes such as aggravated assault, assault (common and domestic), residential burglaries, motor vehicle theft, narcotics violations, both armed and strong-armed robberies, shoplifting, stealing under $500 and vandalism.

Total calls for service was down as well with a total of 75,325 calls for service in 2013 compared to 81,327 in 2012 and 88,859 in 2011.

Piccinini again cited the community policing aspect for the reduction in crime.

“All of the trends we are seeing except for business burglaries are good,” he said. “Our calls for service are down, our crimes are down and from the latest citizen’s survey our citizen satisfaction is up. I don’t think from a police department’s perspective you could ask for much better.”

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