Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Help to Identify Jewelry Thief

Overland Park Police Detectives are looking for assistance in identifying a suspect in the theft of over $10,000 worth of jewelry from two different retail establishments in Overland Park. The thefts occurred on different dates and involved the same subject.

On 1/21/12, the suspect broke into a freestanding locked display on the counter while a female accomplice acted as a lookout. At the second location on 01/25/12, he punched a hole in the jewelry glass counter and was by himself. The subject is described as a white male, in his 40s, average height, 200 lbs, beard, wearing a dark ball cap with a white emblem. The suspect vehicle is possibly a white 90's Olds Cutlass with a red front bumper.

Please take a look at the photos below. Anyone with information on these suspects or this crime is asked to call the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8750.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Still Seeing Orange

As you drive in any direction on US69 Highway from I-35 to W. 119th Street, you can see the tremendous amount of progress Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) has done on the roadway. This construction project has been the result of one of the largest federal stimulus projects in metropolitan Kansas City.

If you’ve driven on that particular stretch recently, you may have noticed that most of the construction appears to be completed and all lanes were essentially open. You’ll also notice that there are still the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit signs with orange and black WORK ZONE signs posted all along that route.

I bring this to your attention because the Traffic Safety Unit has received several complaints of drivers who were speeding well in excess of the construction limit of 55 miles per hour.

During the last four months, there have been over 70 accidents on that stretch of highway. A majority of these accidents can be directly attributed to drivers not allowing enough stopping distance, or following too closely.

KDOT has advised they are still working in that area and need to shut down lanes on an “as needed” basis. Construction along that corridor will continue into 2013 as they work on the section between I-435 Highway and W. 119th Street.

Beginning this week, Traffic Safety Officers are going to step up their enforcement efforts along this area of US69 Highway. Countless studies have shown that driving in excess of the posted speed limits greatly increases the chances for accident and injuries. Studies have also provided information which indicates enforcement efforts help slow down drivers and, thus save lives.

The fine for speeding 10 miles over the limit in Overland Park Municipal Court is $101, and getting stopped in a construction zone greatly increases that amount.

Allow yourself a little extra drive time in these areas and a little extra space between yourself and the car in front of you. You’ll be miles ahead in the long run.

Friday, January 27, 2012

ABOVE AND BEYOND. BY DESIGN. – A Police Perspective

Last year, city leaders adopted a new slogan which promoted the city’s strength of customer service, and the personal commitment that employees deliver to the citizens of Overland Park on a daily basis.

While this is not a new concept from a police perspective, I’m constantly amazed at the things our officers do that are beyond their regular scope of duties.

Recently, I heard about an incident which exemplifies this practice of “going beyond that which is expected.” Sgt. Brian Houlihan, and Officer Brad Heater were dispatched to a call for service regarding children who were in need of care. When they arrived on scene, they quickly realized there were two boys under the age of three that had been without any type of adult supervision for an extended period of time. They also discovered each child had on heavily soiled diapers along with their dirty clothing.

The decision was made to take the children into police protective custody. Instead of making the children wait even longer to be changed by someone in Social Services, the officers took it upon themselves to find clean diapers/clothing, and did what needed to be done.

I’m proud of the work our officers do on a regular basis as they work to serve the citizens of this great city. I feel this is a testament to the quality and character of people we hire to patrol our streets.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

They Took Your What?

It’s out of sight and out of mind- until you start up your vehicle, that is. You may not even know what it’s called, but that small muffler-looking object under your vehicle is a catalytic converter. To you, it helps keep your vehicle “sounding right”, but to a thief, it means a fast buck.

A catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system of your vehicle. Thieves know that catalytic converters contain the precious metal platinum, which can be sold for quick cash.

Unfortunately, catalytic converter thefts are documented nationwide. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in Overland Park. In 2011, there were 71 reported incidents, some of which were multiple thefts. So far this year, we’ve taken 12 reports.

This is a metro-wide problem and involves many suspects. I will share with you a couple of pictures of a suspect vehicle to be on the lookout for. The vehicle is a gray, newer--model Chevy Trailblazer, with a sunroof and trailer hitch. Typically, the driver backs into a spot near the victim’s vehicle. The passenger then gets out and removes the catalytic converter.

I asked my Criminal Analysis Unit to do some research on how much thieves are getting for stolen Catalytic converters, and how much the victim has to pay to replace it. As you can see below, the numbers are pretty significant on the part of the victim.

Recycling Quotes on Catalytic Converters:
Small = $45
Medium = $50
Large = $70
Ford = $32
GM = $70-$100
Camry $65
Small Foreign = $85
Medium Foreign = $100
Large Foreign = $120

*Dealer Prices to Replace Stolen Catalytic Converters
1996 Saturn = $821.04
2003 Pontiac Grand Am CC = $773.54
2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo = $866.40
2004 Chevrolet Cavalier = $652.00

*these are all from recent catalytic converters thefts in Overland Park

A thief can remove a catalytic converter from under a vehicle in as little as two minutes. Recently, the most commonly hit vehicles are Chevy Cavaliers, Pontiac Grand Prix’s, Oldsmobile Aleros, and Pontiac Sunfires.

There are some things you can do to reduce the possibility of being a victim of thefts in general. The first preventive thing is to park in well-lighted areas, or close to the front entrance to buildings. Also, be aware of any suspicious vehicles or people hanging out in parking lots.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Truth

Truth and integrity. There is no denying how important these values are to us as individuals. As police officers, we build our whole career on truth and integrity. The officers and detectives of Overland Park incorporate these values into their daily activities, but Detective Mike Mann spent many of his days dealing with truth and integrity at a different level.

Detective Mann began his career with the police department 33 years ago. He started work on the street, but quickly became part of a Directed Patrol Unit that would deal each day with specific, targeted problem areas. He eventually moved to the personnel department and spent the majority of his career as a polygraph examiner.

One might conjure up pictures and ideas of the polygraph examiner interrogating a suspect in a heinous crime. While he was a vital part of many investigations, the reality is Detective Mann spent most of his days as a gatekeeper, if you will, for the police department. You see, potential candidates in the police officer hiring process must go through a polygraph examination. Detective Mann ensured the officers who would serve this city possessed the required integrity.

For many years, Detective Mann conducted two to three-hour-long interviews to countless numbers of individuals. He never took a short cut and always took great pride in his work. He was, and always will be, dedicated to finding the truth. Yesterday we said goodbye to Detective Mann as he begins his investigation of retirement and finds the truth behind a little relaxation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Legacy of Excellence Adds New Member

On Sunday January 22nd, 2012, the Police Department promoted six members from within its ranks, and also recognized a new recipient of the Legacy of Excellence award.

The Legacy of Excellence recognizes outstanding public service, commitment to the community and strength of character. This year’s recipient, Palle Rilinger, certainly embodies all these qualities and more. Palle is the past president and CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, better known as MOCSA.

In the past, Legacy of Excellence award winners have all been either directly connected to the police department, or to the City of Overland Park in some manner. Palle is the first inductee who didn’t have any of those direct connections. What she did in her 27 years at the helm of MOCSA was deliver unwavering support for victims of sexual support. She raised money, directed a staff and, more importantly, handcrafted an initiative which positively impacted the lives of women and men who are victims of these crimes. In doing so, she has made our community - in fact, the entire metropolitan community - a more humane and caring place. Because of her devotion and commitment to advocacy on behalf of those victimized, Palle Rilinger leaves “A Legacy of Excellence”.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Police Department Holds Promotional Ceremony

On Sunday January 22nd, 2012, the Police Department conducted a promotion ceremony which recognized six candidates for promotion; a Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors and three Sergeants.

Simon Happer was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Michael Imber and Sonta Wilburn were promoted to the rank of Major. The three individuals promoted to the rank of Sergeant were Matthew Bregel, Kyle Livengood, and Tirsa Otero.

One of the key components during the ceremony was the recitation of the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, which reads:

"On my honor, I will never
betray my badge, my integrity,
my character or the public trust.

I will always have the courage to hold
myself and others accountable for our actions.

I will always uphold the constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.

Each one of these individuals has exemplified this oath by their actions and the way they do their jobs on a day-to-day basis. Please join me in congratulating each of them on their promotions.

Sergeant Matthew Bregel

Sergeant Kyle Livengood

Sergeant Tirsa Otero

Major Mike Imber

Major Sonta Wilburn

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Happer

Friday, January 20, 2012

Did You See That?

“Which way did they go, which way did they go?” said the sheepdog in the old children’s cartoon. The sheepdog is asking a question that might sound simple, but as a police officer, I know the timely collection of who, what, when, where, why and how can be critical. We collect this information from a variety of sources, but witnesses and victims of crimes are usually the first to provide valuable details of an incident.

Think back to almost any news story and you may remember hearing mention of what a witness reported. A witness or victim can help solve a case and be an integral part of successful prosecution. It could be a simple hit and run accident or the most heinous of crimes, but any accurate details of the event can be important.

I want to give you a few things to think about in case you ever find yourself a witness or victim of something that requires police involvement:

Make mental notes about the suspect or suspects. Start at the head or hair, and work your way down to the shoes. Try to identify anything that stands out as odd, unusual or specific. Try to get those same specifics on vehicles. License plate numbers, even if they are only partial, are helpful.

Officers want to be there to help immediately, but there will likely be at the very least a short delay before officers can arrive. While you are waiting, jot down all of your information. This doesn’t have to be done in a story or statement form. A quick list of whatever you remember while it is fresh is good enough to start.

Daily activities provide opportunities to practice these observation skills. Any passing person allows you the chance to make mental notes about clothing, scars, glasses, or even the way they walk.

Remember, safety is paramount. Never insert yourself into a dangerous situation to collect the details of a crime. If you aren’t able to answer questions because you are hurt or worse, it won’t help anyone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Help Identifying Three Suspects in a Pawn Shop Burglary

I’m asking for the public’s help again in identifying three subjects who broke into a pawn shop on the evening of January 15th, 2012.

This burglary is especially disturbing because these three subjects specifically targeted this pawn shop for its long guns.

Officers were able to obtain surveillance video and still photos of the three suspects as they entered the business. It’s tough to make out any faces in them, but someone may be able to recognize specific clothing items.

Photos of the suspects are attached, and the video can be downloaded from the Overland Park YouTube site.


Please take a look at the video and photos. Anyone with information on the identity of these suspects is asked to call the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS, or the Overland Park Police Departments Investigation Division at 913-344-8750.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eye in The Sky

Once upon a time when two cars crashed at an intersection and both drivers claimed to have had a green light, the truth might never have been determined. Today’s officers have a tool that can capture the moment of impact and other helpful information, as well.

The City of Overland Park has traffic cameras at various intersections. These cameras can capture pre-crash movement, traffic signal colors, and traffic violations. In 2011 they captured just over 23% of the reported crashes in the city. They can also be used in emergency operations and criminal investigations.

While the predominate purpose of the traffic cameras is to monitor real time traffic flow for the traffic engineers, they have been extremely helpful to officers and detectives. This city currently has 114 traffic cameras with plans to install more in the near future.

For more information on the cameras or to view the cameras in real time, visit the city’s website at http://www.opkansas.org/apps/resident-resources/traffic-web-cameras/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MADD Recognizes OP Officers

This past Saturday, January 14, 2012, a special event took place in Grandview, Missouri. The event was hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and recognized those officers who enforce DUI laws. Among the 38 officers recognized were Overland Park Officers Andrew Black and Jared Kendrick.

Officer Black has been a part of this police department for 24 years. Half of those years have been spent as a Traffic Safety Officer. In 2011, he arrested 102 people who were driving under the influence, which brought his career total to nearly 1500 DUI’s. These numbers speak to his dedication to the safety of Overland Park streets.

Officer Jared Kendrick has been a police officer in Overland Park for just over two years. As a patrol officer, he has already made 129 DUI arrests. In his short time as an officer he has personally experienced the dangers related to driving under the influence when he was struck by a car during a DUI investigation.

Alcohol and drug impaired drivers negatively affect thousands of families nationwide every year. I am proud of each and every officer who diligently fights this fight.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action! A Follow Up To Breaking News

A short time ago I posted a blog about the search for the department’s new Public Information Officer or PIO. As I mentioned before, I had a handful of potential candidates. Each had to demonstrate their ability to interview well and communicate effectively in writing. They also had to be able to handle the move from police work, as most picture it to be, to working in an office atmosphere. Not many officers are willing to make this transition.

I must say I was impressed by the quality of all the applicants who applied. They were all excellent candidates and would have been competent and successful in the position. I would have been comfortable with any one of them representing the department. None the less, only one could be chosen.

I am pleased to announce I have selected Officer Gary Mason to fill this position. Officer Mason will assume on these duties effective January 17, 2012. He may be contacted at 913-327-6937 or gary.mason@opkansas.org.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's Your Emergency

“911 Overland Park,” the voice on the other end of the line says. The voice belongs to that of a 911 dispatcher. Our dispatchers are typically your first point of contact in an emergency situation. Their role in the police department is usually overshadowed by more glamorous jobs like SWAT and CSI, but make no mistake, the job requires a very special skill set.

The city’s job description for a Police Dispatcher outlines those required skills. Among other things it lists the “ability to work in an environment with constant interruptions”. Dispatchers actually answer 911 calls, non-emergency calls and calls from officers so the interruptions can be very frequent. “Good oral communication skills” is a requirement. Yes, I think we can all agree this would be very important. Patience was another skill. It was listed as number 11 under mental requirements, but if you worked just one day with any Police Dispatcher, you might think it belongs in the number one position. The requirement of good listening skills was one the list, too.

And listen they will. They have heard it all from, “Help! My child’s not breathing” to even the calls that would be more appropriate for the non-emergency line, such as the elderly man whose wife had recently passed and he needed someone to talk him through making a cup of hot chocolate. You call and they will be there to answer.

In those emergency situations, dispatchers are there for police officers and public alike. They have to work quickly, take information from one and relay it to another. Like a police officer, their day can go from quiet and calm to hectic in a moment. Through it all they maintain composure and answer the call. They may be out of sight and seemingly out of mind, but they are the unsung heroes of the police department.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hide and Seek Anyone?

The phone rang early this past Saturday morning, January 7, 2012. It was dispatch calling. “Chief, officers are on a report of a missing 5-year-old,” said the voice on the other end of the line. I listened as the dispatcher provided me with the basic information the officers had gathered to this point, name, description and the time the boy was last seen.

It started out sounding serious enough. In fact, this call type creates an urgency that rivals other types of calls. However, this time tragedy was averted.

The boy’s parents searched the inside of the home before calling officers to help. A short time later relief replaced anxiety when the boy was found hiding in the family’s living room under a chair. Mystery solved and hiding spot noted.

Hide and seek can be a fun game for the child, but only when the seeker knows the game is going on. Talk with your children about when and where to play hide and seek.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

While You’re Out Grabbing Lunch, They’re In Grabbing Goodies

Yesterday I wrote about the release of information. I told you about the cases where we ask for help with identifying suspects. Today, I have just that kind of request. Detectives are currently working two different investigations that are unrelated, but were committed in similar manners, and they need your help in identifying the suspects in each.

The first case made a victim out of someone who spends her day helping others. A nurse in a doctor’s office was contacted during her work day in reference to someone trying to use one of her credit cards. She quickly learned someone had removed her wallet from her purse while she was away from her desk.

The second case has several victims. The suspect or suspects entered business suites at different locations during the lunch hours. These thefts occurred between October and December of 2011. The targets of these thefts were computer laptops, wallets and other purse contents.

My message of caution would apply to both investigations. Watch for people coming or going from your business that appear out of place or are unknown to you. Be especially vigilant during the lunch hours.

Anyone with information about the identity of the people in the photos shown below is asked to call the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today We Tell All The Secrets - Well Not Quite

The truth is, there’s a very delicate balance between “right to know” and “need to know”. Two recent high profile cases are prime examples of this fact.

Consider this, every piece of information officers and detectives develop is a building block to a pyramid, the pyramid being a potential criminal case. Compromise or remove just one piece, especially in the foundation, and the structure grows weak. It can even collapse completely. And, like it or not, some things are not released to protect a person’s right to a fair trial.

There are times we release information to get assistance in solving a case. Other times we withhold information is to keep from jeopardizing a case. Equally important to protecting a case is protecting family members during some of the most devastating cases. The last thing I want is for a family member to learn about the loss of a loved one or details of how they may have died from a news report.

Finally, in big investigations, we develop many leads and talk with lots of people that end up being unrelated to the investigation. If we talked about each and every item we investigated or person we spoke with, there are those who could be affected adversely.

So while there are those who clamor and demand to know it all, sometimes we just can’t tell all the secrets.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Rare Call

There are some types of calls that the officers of Overland Park respond to regularly and then there are some types of calls that are few and far between. A murder-suicide call is one of the rare kind. In fact, when officers responded to the call of shots fired on January 5, 2012, just after 10:00 am, it was the first call of this nature since September of 2011.

As most know by now, the original call came out as a report of shots fired. The first officers on scene located a female who was shot multiple times. She was transported to a nearby hospital, but later died from her injuries. An investigation ensued.

Officer and detectives learned from witnesses that a maroon truck, driven by a white male, was seen leaving the area. They searched the area for the truck and found it nearby in the 13900 block of Lamar. The male related to the truck was found dead from a gunshot wound.

Detectives continue to work the investigation but have determined it is a domestic situation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Cat With Nine Lives

People can be pretty vicious when it comes to domestic disturbances. Emotions run hot and tempers can flare. In a fit of rage they will sometimes do anything as a means of revenge, coercion, control, or punishment. We’ve seen them do everything from destroying each other’s property to physically attacking one another. Rarely, though, do we see someone target a pet.

In the early hours of New Year’s Day a domestic fight broke out between girlfriends at an apartment. Property was broken and fists flew. At one point during the fight, a cat was thrown out a second story window. The suspect in the incident said she knew the only way to hurt her girlfriend was to hurt the cat she loved.

Thankfully, the cat survived the fall with minor injuries. This situation just demonstrates how nothing is safe when people start to lose control.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Breaking News

It starts with a simple dispatched call. Maybe the officers are responding with lights and sirens. Maybe it is a simple non-emergency response. Either way, upon their arrival, what they learn may quickly become big news and the next thing you know, the media arrives.

In the next few moments, “Breaking News” is born. You will probably see a reporter who gives you a quick summary and then segues into a clip of an interview from someone who is involved. If it’s a police-related incident, you’ll likely see someone in uniform providing the who, what, when, where, why and how details. What you did not witness is the moments before that interview is taped. In that time, the officers on scene were probably having a “paper, rock, scissors” standoff to see who would have to complete the interview and face the news camera.

You see, I have many great police officers in the department but to ask one to stand in front of a camera and answer a reporter’s questions, well that takes a special personality. I realized a few years ago the City of Overland Park and the police related events that took place here would require someone dedicated to handle the news side of these calls. We call the officer that fulfills these duties the Public Information Officer or PIO.

In the City of Overland Park, the PIO must be knowledgeable of city ordinances and current events. As the face of the department, they must be polished, helpful, articulate, and appear at ease on camera. As if that isn’t enough, I also require my PIO to assist with daily administrative tasks from preparing letters and running errands to attending meetings and helping with various projects.

Why do I bring all this up? A recent promotion has forced me to start the process of looking for a new PIO. I have identified a handful of possible candidates within the department. These candidates have had to demonstrate their written communications skills as well as respond to personal interviews. The end goal is to find that perfect person to speak to you the next time “Breaking News” happens.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Orange Signs Got You Seeing Red?

The Kansas Department of Transportation sent out a reminder recently that the next phase of improvements to the I-435 Highway and US-69 Interchange area has now begun. Unfortunately, these improvements will come with some temporary inconveniences. Ramp closures at the interchanges of I-435 Highway and Quivira Road, I-435 Highway and US-69 Highway, and US-69 Highway and College Boulevard may take place. Short-term lane restrictions may also be likely. This is estimated to be a three-year project.

With the added driving challenges of winter weather looming, please remember to drive safely. Allow yourself a greater following distance on slick roads and watch out for changes in driving patterns. Getting to your destination safely is more important than getting there quickly.