Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reminder to be Safe and Responsible Tonight

With the dawn of 2014 just a few hours away, we want to remind everyone to celebrate its arrival safely. This includes not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, setting off fireworks, or even the occasional "celebratory" gunfire, which can send stray bullets into innocent bystanders.

The Overland Park Police Department will be conducting a DUI Saturation Patrol tonight with the goal of reducing alcohol-related auto accidents and to discourage impaired driving on New Year's Eve.  

Fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge within the city limits of Overland Park. Posted below is the city's ordinance regarding the discharge of a firearm in the city.

The police department is asking everyone to be safe, responsible, and to consider how their decisions may impact neighbors or others around them.

A. 11.60.040 Unlawful discharge of firearm

It shall be unlawful for any person other than those excepted by Sections 11.60.010(B) (1), (2) or (3) to discharge or shoot off any gun, pistol or other firearm within the corporate City limits except as provided below.
1. The discharge of a pistol, revolver, rifle of not more than .224 caliber or shotgun by a duly licensed hunter as described in Section 11.60.010(C), provided the requirements of Section 11.12.155 are complied with.
2. The discharge of a gun, pistol or other firearm at any legally operated shooting gallery, pistol range, or gun club approved by the Chief of Police in writing.
3. The discharge of a shotgun, gun, pistol or other firearm in the process of target or skeet shooting on land that is primarily rural, or devoted to agricultural use as defined in Section 18.110.040, if written permission is obtained from the landowner where the target or skeet shooting is occurring. When on land of less than 40 acres, the person discharging the firearm must have in his or her possession written permission of all landowners or persons in possession of land contiguous to the land where the target or skeet shooting is occurring. It shall be unlawful for a person otherwise lawfully target or skeet shooting within the City to discharge a firearm or other projectile within 500 feet of any property on which a residence, school, church, airport, cemetery, or public recreation facility is located to include all adjacent or contiguous property owned for such purposes.
4. The discharge of a gun, pistol or other firearm by any duly licensed watchman, detective, special agent or other person described in Section 11.60.010(C) if such action is reasonably necessary for the protection of life or property.
5. The discharge of a gun, pistol or other firearm with blank ammunition only by an honor guard, composed of members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers or members of veterans service organizations listed in Part I of the most recent edition of the Directory of Veterans Service Organizations issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, in a "salute" or "honor" to an individual, in conjunction with a funeral or other "honor" ceremony, provided that the Chief of Police must approve the discharge of firearms by the honor guard, to include the type of firearm, ammunition to be used, and the location and time of the discharge. This information must be provided to the Chief of Police at least twenty-four hours prior to the proposed date of the firearms discharge provided the Chief of Police may approve the discharge on an emergency basis, as he or she deems appropriate.

Violation of this Section is a Class C violation.

Monday, December 30, 2013

We Need assistance in Locating Phillip Esquire Miller IV

UPDATE: Phillip Esquire Miller IV was arrested and taken into custody without incident by the US Marshall's Office yesterday in San Diego, California.

Mr. Miller should be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Phillip Esquire Miller IV (DOB: 11-23-84), B/M, 6’ 2”, 208 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, is wanted for Felony Identity Theft and Felony Theft. 

The theft charge is related to stealing delivered packages off the front porches of residences in Johnson County.  Both warrants have been issued by the Johnson County District Attorney's Office.

Note: Mr. Miller is currently out on bond from an Attempted Murder charge in California that occurred in 2010. 

Phillip Esquire Miller IV is to be considered dangerous and should not be confronted by the public. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Miller is asked to contact The Overland Park Police Department at 913-344-8767 or the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS.

Friday, December 27, 2013

DUI Saturation Patrol - Keep the Party Off the Road

The Overland Park Police Department is conducting a DUI Saturation Patrol on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.  It is the police department’s goal to reduce alcohol related auto accidents and discourage impaired driving within its community.  

The DUI Saturation Patrol will begin at 10:00 PM, and the enforcement will not end until 2:00 AM.  

Drunk driving is a killer on the roads all year round, but data shows that the tradition of celebrating the holidays with alcohol leads to an increase of traffic crashes and resulting deaths and injuries.

Nationwide, the holiday season is a particularly deadly time due to the high number of drunk drivers on the roads. In 2011, 760 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving-related crashes during the month of December.

During the Decembers from 2007 to 2011 there were 4,169 people killed in crashes that involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,367 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2011, and 31 percent (9,878) of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes. 

Drinking and driving endangers yourself, your passengers, and those on the road around you. Whether you’ve had one or one too many, always hand the keys to a sober driver.

The Consequences of Driving Drunk Are Deadly Serious. 

Driving while impaired is a crime that seriously risks your safety and the safety of those around you. Whether you have had one too many or are way over the limit, drunk driving is not worth causing a traffic crash, serious injury, or worse—death.

The legal and financial costs of driving while impaired can be significant. Drunk-driving violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work. 

Refusing to take a breath test in many jurisdictions results in immediate arrest, the loss of your driver’s license on the spot and the impoundment of your vehicle. Also, there’s the added embarrassment, humiliation, and consequences of telling family, friends and employers of your arrest.

Plan Ahead and Never Drink and Drive 

Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk—or worse, the risk of having a crash while driving. 

If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving.  Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins.

If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.

Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.
If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life. 

Remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Help Us Catch This Holiday Scrooge

Most of us work very hard for the money we earn and the things we buy, but as we've pointed out numerous times on this blog, there are many who make it their job to steal, rather than earn, the things they get.

The following is a great example of what we're talking about. The female pictured below must have had a lot of people to buy gifts for during the holidays because she racked up over $15,000 worth of charges on someone else's credit cards.

Our victim in this case had just finished shopping at a local department store, went to pay for her items and discovered her wallet was missing. Further investigation indicated her wallet had been taken from her purse while it was sitting inside the shopping cart. She got further confirmation of this when the bank contacted her and said three of her credit cards had been used to purchase over $6,000 in gift cards at an area retail store a short time later. 

While she was at the store purchasing the gift cards, the suspect covered her face with her hands as she entered and left the business, in order to avoid the surveillance cameras. Investigators are still trying to determine if the female who stole the credit cards is the same one who redeemed the gift cards at four area retail stores.

Surprisingly enough, this wasn't the first time our suspect has done this. She's totaled more than $15,000 in charges in the Kansas City area using stolen credit cards. The gift cards are then usually redeemed on the same day for merchandise.

As you can imagine, we'd like to catch her and are asking you to look carefully at the pictures below. If you have information on this person’s identity, contact the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8730.

Red or Orange Chevy Cobalt 2 -Door

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Protect Your Home during the Holidays

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. The FBI also says that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. during November and December each year. 

And what does this mean for us during the holiday season when so many of us will be traveling or deftly placing copious amounts of presents under our trees? It means we need to do a better job of protecting our home during this time and, quite frankly, year-round as well.

Criminals want to relieve you of your valuables and are certainly out looking for easy opportunities to do so, especially during the holidays.

Recently, you've heard reports in the media about suspects stealing packages from doorsteps and residential burglaries targeting those of certain ethnic backgrounds. Those investigations are still on-going but, in the midst of all that, we want to point out that the total number of residential burglaries is down significantly compared to last year.

In 2012, the Overland Park Police Department took 406 residential burglary reports. Through December 18 of this year, we are sitting at 292 as compared to 398 during the same time period last year.

What can you do to protect your house during this time and avoid becoming another statistic? See below:

Have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers. 
During an extended vacation, make arrangements to have someone mow your lawn, shovel snow, or trim your bushes. 
Leave lights on automatic timers. 
Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by your house periodically; have them open and close blinds, turn on different lights. 
Let your neighbors know when you are leaving and when you plan to return home and if you are expecting anybody at your house while you are away. 
Burglars want easy access to your home. Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed near all doors and windows where intruders might hide. Add exterior lights and consider lights that are activated by motion sensors.
Burglars like to work quickly, so try to slow down their path into and around the house. You can accomplish this with:
1. deadbolt locks 
2. window locks 
3. bars placed in the tracks or track locks on all sliding glass doors and windows (if they would not impede your escape in an emergency) 
4. locks on all doors and windows  Seems redundant to me.
Don't record the fact you are gone on your telephone answering machine. 
Don't broadcast the fact that you'll be away on Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, in your blog or anywhere else on the Internet.
Don't hide your keys on your property. 
A nosy neighbor is a burglar's worst enemy. Get to know your neighbors and work out an arrangement to watch each other's houses. Let them know when you will be gone and whether any deliveries are expected during your absence. 
Store jewelry and other valuables in a safe hiding place, such as a safety deposit box. 
Go through each room and write down a list of possessions, including serial numbers. Take pictures of your valuables and keep them in a safe place or with a friend or relative. This will help in the event of a burglary.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Are you a Victim?

As a result of the security breach involving millions of Target Corporation customer’s credit and debit card numbers, many local banks are reporting victims locally. The security breach was believed to have occurred at retail Target stores between November 27th and December 15th this year.  Target advises the compromised information includes the customer’s name, credit or debit card number, expiration date and CVV (the three-digit security code on back).

Pay close attention to activity on your account and verify all transactions are authorized. Any unauthorized transactions should be reported to the bank or to the authorities.

Additionally, here is an information link provided by Target for further information:

This is an unfortunate incident but serves as a reminder of the importance of reviewing your credit statements.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Officer Black Receives Award From MADD

MADD Kansas Recognizes Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

Overland Park, KS — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Kansas, presented its first annual Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to Officer Andy Black, Overland Park Police Department, during the Operation Impact meeting on December 18, 2013.

Lori Marshall - (MADD), Officer Black, Karen Smart (MADD)
"MADD Kansas is honored to be able to recognize Officer Black for his service and dedication," said Christopher Mann, MADD Kansas Advisory Board Chair.  “His work has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented the devastation that is so often caused by drunk driving.”  

Officer Andy Black celebrated 25 years of service with the Overland Park Police Department in November of 2013.  Officer Black is a Traffic Safety Officer on the department with specialized training as a Drug Recognition Expert.  OPPD Police Chief John Douglass said, “Officer Andy Black is a dedicated Traffic safety Officer who has specialized in DUI enforcement and has made it a top priority during his career in order to save the lives of others.”

“Ensuring the safety of motorists in our city, including children, is a priority,” said Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach. “Officer Black’s commitment to protect against impaired drivers not only saves lives, but saves the individual driver from further harm and possibly death.”

MADD Kansas urges area residents to Tie One On For Safety, MADD’s signature public awareness program.  Red ribbons signify support for law enforcement officers, who will be out in force throughout Kansas and Missouri as part of Operation Impact.

“As we look forward to celebrating the holidays with family and friends, MADD is raising awareness about the importance of planning ahead and designating a non-drinking driver, especially since holidays are some of the most dangerous times on our roads.” said Mann, also a former law enforcement officer.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It Can Go Boom

Last week, the Overland Park Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit was called out to assist the HazMat Recycling Center located inside one of the Johnson County Waste Water Plants. Apparently someone had dropped off  a can of ether at an unknown date and time.  

The can was a one gallon container which resembled a small 55 gallon drum.  The top of the can was flat and appeared to be 40 to 50 years old. The can was not damaged, but the label was very worn and unreadable. 

Ether is classified as a Peroxide Forming Chemical. Old ether, such as the one mentioned above, can form peroxide crystals which are explosive and unstable. If not stored and handled properly, this can pose a serious threat to the health and safety of anyone in contact with it. It's obviously very important to follow safety protocols when handling or disposing of this chemical.

The EOD officers used a robot to move the can across the property to a six-foot hole that was dug specifically for this gallon can of ether.  The can and its contents were safely disposed of and there was no harm to life, limb or property.

As you can see from the video below, the detonation of the ether produced a large fireball.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vice Sting Results in the Arrests of Four Individuals

On Saturday night, members of the Overland Park Police Vice Unit conducted a one-day prostitution sting that resulted in the arrests of three females for selling sexual relations and one male for buying sexual relations. 

The total number of people arrested during these prostitution stings is currently at 67 for the year. While these numbers may be small compared to previous years, it certainly hasn't been the lack of trying on our part. We still deploy the same amount of resources as we have in the past, but we see fewer targets willing to come and do business  in our city.

The focus of our stings is to identify and apprehend individuals who engage in selling, buying and promoting sexual relations inside the city limits of Overland Park. To that end, we feel we're doing a pretty job of getting that message out.

To give you an example of how hard we worked in order to set up Saturday night's sting, undercover detectives were in direct contact with 46 individuals during the sting, but 25 of those declined to meet in Overland Park, and 7 more simply didn't show up.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Be Careful Out There Today

The roads are becoming slippery right now (7:45 AM) and the forecasts predicts they're just going to gets worse as the day goes on. 

We are currently working 14 motor vehicle accidents including one involving a school bus and possibly seven other vehicles. Officers are on scene now and our accessing the situation, but it appears to be only minor injuries.

The following tips are provided courtesy of AAA

Driving in Snow and Ice
The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It's helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads
1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. 
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. 
3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads. 

If your rear wheels skid...
1. Take your foot off the accelerator. 
2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right. 
3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control. 
4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid...
1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately. 
2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently. 

If you get stuck...
1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. 
3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going. 

Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Results of the Driver Awareness Campaign on December 10th

Listed below are statistics related to the Driver Awareness Campaign conducted by the Overland Park Police Department on Tuesday. The event was conducted during a (6) hour period at various locations in our city. Most of the locations worked were High Accident Locations and Traffic Complaint Areas.

There were four officers who participated in the event. 

72 - Traffic Tickets Issued

56 - Vehicles Stopped

1 - Warrant Arrest - (Robbery Suspect)

The next High Visibility Traffic Enforcement date is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, January 8th, 2013. The primary goals of the monthly enforcement initiatives are to reduce motor vehicle collisions through selective enforcement, education and deterrence.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Watch Out for This Package Grabber and His Vehicle

Follow Up From Yesterday's Blog: The pictures below were pulled from the home surveillance video of one of our victims. The pictures clearly show how bold and daring the suspect is as he pulls into the driveway, grabs three packages from the porch and puts them in his vehicle.

At this time, we're still looking to see if these incidents may be related to the same suspect or if there's more than one suspect. There's also the possibility the suspect has access to more than one vehicle. 

Anyone with information on this person’s identity is asked to contact the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8750.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Easy Pickins

The holidays are upon and so, too, are the crooks who will try anything to get your precious purchases. You often hear from us, and many other media outlets, about the different ways thieves will try to separate you from your hard-earned cash and property, but perhaps the easiest method is sitting outside on your front porch right now.

As more people go online for deals and hassle free shopping, the number of packages being left on doorsteps is increasing exponentially as we get closer to the holidays. Thieves are aware of this, also, and often steal packages right after the delivery person has left.

Since many of us are not home at the time of delivery, we prefer the item to be left on the doorstep instead of having to go pick it up or sign for it.

Here in Overland Park, we've had two recent events that we want to bring to your attention. The first occurred on December 2nd during the evening hours. The victim told police she heard someone knocking softly on the front door, but she chose not to answer it. A short time later, the victim noticed a package was missing that had been delivered earlier.  

The second event happened yesterday around noon. The victim in this case was at home and had heard a package being delivered earlier in the day, but hadn't gone out to retrieve it yet. A short time later, she heard her dog barking near the front door. When she looked out the window, she observed someone taking her package from the front porch. 

Our victim ran out the door to confront the subject who said something about having the wrong address. He threw her package into the back of his vehicle, which he had conveniently backed into her driveway.  As he quickly pulled away with the rear door still open, the victim grabbed the package and pulled it from the vehicle as it started forward.  

The victim described the suspect as a black male with short hair, about 5`08" with a thin build, possibly in his 20`s.  He was wearing baggy blue jeans and an unknown colored sweatshirt. The suspect’s vehicle was described as a white SUV, possibly a Jeep Cherokee.  

In order to reduce the opportunity for thieves to steal your parcels, UPS and FedEx suggest that you request a signature before the package can be released to anyone. You can also have your packages delivered to your place of work, or dropped off at a trusted neighbor’s home.

FedEx rolled out a program this year called "Delivery Manager" which allows customers to decide when and where packages will be delivered. UPS also has an option that allows customers to go online and release packages requiring a signature. Both services are free.

Monday, December 9, 2013

We'll Be Out There

In an ongoing effort to keep the roadways safe for the citizens of Overland Park and the thousands of motorists who travel our roadways on a daily basis, officers from the Traffic Safety Unit will team up to work the department's monthly Accident Reduction Initiative.

On Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, special attention will be given to the following locations:

7:30 am to 9:00 am

I-435 Highway & Antioch Rd.

9:15 am to 10:45 am
I-435 Highway & Quivira

Noon to 1:00 pm
75th Street & Metcalf Ave.

1:15 pm to 2:45 pm
I-435 Highway & Roe Ave.

The primary goals of the monthly enforcement initiatives are to reduce accidents and to get drivers and passengers to buckle up. Another benefit of the Accident Reduction Initiative is the prevention of crime by saturating these areas with police officers.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Survivor Thanks Officers Who Helped Save His Life

This past Tuesday, John Cikan and his wife, Mary, stopped by Sanders Station to meet with and personally thank the officers who responded to help him when he went into cardiac arrest back on September 27th. 

Sergeant Otero, Officers Byng and Voorhees, along with first responders from the Fire Department and MedAct, worked in unison to give Mr. Cikan CPR that day in the parking lot of Costco. 

John was very appreciative of the work done by everyone and said he wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the efforts of these first-responders. He also was very appreciative of the assistance provided by store employees, customers and medical personnel at the hospital.

While John and Mary had already had a chance to meet with and thank the other individuals involved, he was happy to finally be able to connect with these officers from the police department.
Sgt. O'tero, Mary & John Cikan, Officer Byng, Officer Voorhees

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Credit Union Robbery in Overland Park

At around 10:10 a.m. today, Overland Park Police responded to a robbery at 9201 W. 87th Street, New Century Credit Union.  

Bank employees told officers a man came into the bank displaying a handgun and demanded money from the teller.  

The teller complied with the demand and the suspect left the bank.  No one was injured. No packages or items were left behind by the robber.

The suspect is described as a B/M approximately 30 years old, 6'0 tall, skinny build, wearing a black puffy winter jacket and red sweatpants.  He also had on a navy stocking cap, black framed glasses, black gloves and was he carrying a black book bag.

The suspect left the bank on foot and was last seen running westbound behind the bank.  No further information is available at this time.

Anyone with information on this crime should contact the FBI 816-512-8200 or the TIPS HOT LINE at 816-474-TIPS.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Help Identify Suspects in Armed Robbery at Oak Park Mall

On Thursday, November 28th, around 9:30 P.M., two black males approached a female as she was walking to her car near the food court at Oak Park Mall. One of them displayed a handgun and demanded her purse. When the victim hesitated, the suspect grabbed the purse from off her shoulder causing her to fall to the ground.

The robber and his accomplice were last seen running west through the parking lot. Surveillance video obtained by detectives show the two suspects getting into a dark colored SUV, possibly a GMC Yukon, which was being driven by another male. The vehicle was last seen heading west on 95th Street towards Quivira.

A short time later the suspects were captured on surveillance video using the victim's credit cards at a department store in Kansas City, Missouri. The still photos of the suspects were all obtained from that transaction.

Note: The three suspects actually tried to push out several carts full of TV's and electronics while they were at that store, but were subsequently stopped by security and left the items at the door.

Anyone with information on this crime and/or the suspects is asked to call the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saving Lives, Stats and The Immeasurables

As we enter the month of December, we close out one heavy holiday travel period, and get ready for another one at the end of the month. If you ventured out on the roadways this Thanksgiving, whether locally or driving out of town, we hope you made it to and from your destinations safely.

From an Overland Park standpoint, this was a relatively safe time period traveling on the city's roadways, as there were no major accidents over the holiday. Why? Many reasons, and of course some that we can't quantify with an actual number. 

One thing we feel strongly about is our special traffic enforcement campaigns that we conduct on a regular basis, including our annual Thanksgiving Mobilization S.T.E.P. Grant (Special Traffic Enforcement Program) campaign.

The S.T.E.P. campaign was conducted with the principle focus on DUI/Restraint violations.  Officers also looked for child passenger seat violations, speeding, texting while driving, and other alcohol related arrests in an effort to reduce alcohol related auto accidents.

Here are the statistical results:

178.75 -  Hours worked
300   - Vehicles stopped
51     -  Speeding violations
188   - Seat belts (18+)
2       - Safety Belts (14-17) 
2       - Safety Belts (8-13)
2       - Booster Seats (4-7)
1       - Child Seats (0-3)
77     - Hazardous Moving
5       - Texting While Driving
46     - Other Violations
4       -  DUI Arrests
0       -  Drug Arrests
5       -  Warrant Arrest
1       -  Other Arrests

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Safe Holiday Travel

In the last few days we've concentrated on supplying our readers with helpful holiday shopping safety tips, but today we want to remind those of you who will be traveling to keep several things in mind to ensure a safe trip to and from.

The most important thing we need to say up front: Devote your full time and attention to driving!

Resist distraction. If you feel yourself getting tired, pull over and take a break (at a safe location where there are other people and light).

Develop the habit of scanning for situational awareness. Use your mirrors frequently to check behind and to your sides. Look ahead, as far down the road as possible, to anticipate slow-downs, stops, snarls, crashes, emergencies, or other events which will affect traffic flow. Avoid the "tunnel vision" which often occurs during monotonous highway driving as you focus only immediately ahead or where your headlights reach.

If you experience a breakdown, pull as far onto the shoulder as possible and turn your emergency flashers on. If you have a cellular phone, summon assistance from a reputable source or call for law enforcement response. Otherwise, raise your hood or tie a streamer to your antenna, and await assistance inside your locked vehicle.

If a stranger stops, speak to them through a partially rolled-down window, and ask them to go to a phone and call police or a tow service; do not exit your vehicle until a law enforcement officer or tow operator are on scene. On longer trips, be sure you have water, food, and blankets in the vehicle.

Should you observe anyone pulled off the roadway and apparently stranded or in need of assistance, extend them the courtesy of reporting your observation to the police at your earliest opportunity.

NEVER pick up hitchhikers (your parents were right!)

If involved in a property-damage collision in an unfamiliar or potentially unsafe location, do not open or exit your vehicle. If you have a cellular telephone, summon law enforcement. If not, acknowledge the accident by hand signal, and motion the other driver to proceed with you to a safe location (where there are other people and light) to exchange information. If unable to proceed, honk the horn to attract attention and ask a passer-by to summon police.

Criminals sometimes deliberately cause minor car crashes in order to rob the occupants or steal the vehicle (so-called "bump-and-rob" or carjacking). If you are involved in a collision which seems suspicious, remain in your vehicle. Get as far off the roadway as possible, and turn on your emergency flashers. Do NOT get out to inspect for damage or to exchange information.

Summon a law enforcement officer or signal the other driver to follow you to a location where you can safely do so. If necessary, sound the horn to attract attention and await help while secure in your vehicle.

If the driver of another vehicle tries to force you off the road, do not stop. Slow to a safe speed, and proceed to a safe location. Try to obtain the license plate number and a description of the other vehicle and its driver and any occupants. Report the occurrence to the police at your earliest opportunity.

Keep your car in gear while stopped at traffic signals or signs. If approached in a threatening manner, honk the horn to attract attention and drive away (as you can do so safely).

Consider car-pooling or ride sharing only IF you have a dependable means of assuring that the other participants are legitimate and safe. Some jurisdictions maintain a central coordinating office for such services; check your telephone directory or on-line. Ride sharing for long trips is NOT recommended unless you are personally acquainted with the other party and fully trust them and have confidence in their driving ability and common sense. Remember; you life is literally in their hands while they're behind the wheel.

Before your trip — Consider leaving a copy of your travel itinerary with a trusted family friend or relative (plus a driving route map or flight/bus/train trip info).

If signaled to stop by any vehicle other than a clearly marked law enforcement unit, acknowledge the signal, and wave the driver to follow you to a safe location (where there are other people and light). Drive within the speed limit and take the shortest possible route to the nearest safe place. If you have a cellular phone, dial 9-1-1, tell the call-taker you are being followed by an unmarked vehicle attempting to stop you, and ask them to send a marked law enforcement vehicle to your location.

When parking...
roll up the windows, lock the vehicle, take the keys, and insure your valuables are concealed (preferably in the trunk). During hours of darkness, park and walk in lighted areas to the extent possible.

While carrying large amounts of cash should be avoided, you should have enough small bills and change to cover on-the-road purchases, including fuel should you run low while in an area where stations don’t accept the cards you carry. Enough for a half-tank fillup, taxi or bus fare, snacks and drinks or a phone call should be sufficient. Traveler’s checks are safer, but are not universally accepted. Keep your wallet, purse, and any other valuables on your person or otherwise out of sight, NOT on the seat next to you.

If you must leave valuable items in your car while out and about, place items out of sight before reaching your destination or move them inconspicuously. This includes packages, backpacks, gym bags, GPS units, MP3 players, and so forth. Someone may be watching when you put items under/behind a seat or throw something over them. An opportunistic thief is on the lookout for "trunk-packing", and can break into your car the minute you're out of sight.

One reason SUVs and pickups are common auto-burglary targets is because they don't have a "trunk" to hold valuables — the driver/passenger generally just "hides" their valuables "out of sight". The thieves know this, and do check glove compartments, behind seats, and under seats. It only takes a few seconds to check all the "usual" hiding places.

Unobtrusively locking everything valuable "in the trunk" (if you have one) may be difficult when you're combining errands at multiple destinations. Certainly avoid leaving packages or shopping bags visible in your car - lock them in the trunk out of sight if you have to leave packages in your car unattended.

Plan your shopping/errands so that you don't load your trunk until you are ready to drive to another destination. Load your trunk when you leave a location — never open a trunk, fill it full of valuables, close it, and then just walk away to do more shopping or other errands.

Source of information, courtesy of the University of Oklahoma Police Department, http://www.ou.edu/oupd

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Never Hurts to Be Aware

While we haven't had heard of any recent reports regarding ATM skimming in the area for a while now, the busy holiday shopping season always bring out clever criminals who are willing to go beyond the norm in order to steal your money. The information below is just another way in which we hope to educate everyone on the many ways to NOT be a victim this season.

Have you been watching your ATM records lately?  If you haven’t been, you should get into the practice of doing so.  It would be no fun to find out someone has drained your bank account.  And it would probably surprise you to learn they could do so without your ATM card ever leaving your possession.  How?  ATM skimming.

Criminals have used several different methods to get your credit card and debit card numbers.  They can obtain the information on line, over the phone through telephone scams and even read the magnetic strip at any place where they may have access to your physical card when you make a purchase.  (Think about a waiter or waitress at a restaurant who isn’t really as nice as they seem.  When they leave to run your card, they can run it through a skimming device at the same time).  A less known tactic that is starting to show up around the area is ATM skimming.

ATM skimming occurs when someone attaches a card reading device to an ATM.  This happens around the actual card reader.  You insert your card and it passes first through the skimming device, then through the ATM card reader.  Presto!  You still get to make your withdrawal, but now the bad guy has the information from your debit card to be used later.  Tiny cameras can be inconspicuously mounted near the keypad to capture your pin number.  Isn’t technology grand?

Are you thinking you would know the difference between a legitimate card reader and one with a skimming device attached?  Take a look at some of these pictures (courtesy of Commonwealth Bank) and see if you can tell the difference.

So how can you avoid being a victim?  Here are a couple of common suggestions we’ve been able to find:

Watch for odd or unusual activity around the ATM - Criminals need an opportunity to attach skimming devices and PIN reading cameras so ATMs that are not closely monitored have an increased risk of being a target.  Information is often transmitted by way of Bluetooth type device.  This means criminals are usually close by receiving the information being transmitted.

Be familiar with the appearance of you ATM – By using the same ATM or a select few ATMs you will have a better chance of spotting something out of the ordinary.  Look for scratches, marks, tape or glue residue.  

Shield the keypad when entering your PIN – Remember criminals are usually trying to get the PIN number and the magnetic strip information.  If you miss the skimming device, you will want to try to at least protect your PIN

Pay attention to activity on your account – Look for any transactions that are not yours or unauthorized.  You should be doing this regularly anyway.

If you think something is not right with an ATM, don’t use it.  Report suspicious findings to the bank or authorities.  Skimming devices are becoming more common.  They have been reported on locations besides ATMs as well, such as pay at the pump gas stations.  ATM / debit cards are convenient, but with anything that is convenient there is a risk that someone out there is looking for an easy payday.  Do your part to keep from being another victim.

For more information regarding spotting skimming devices visit:


Monday, November 25, 2013

A Strong Finish

As 2013 is rapidly coming to a close, we want to take a few minutes to remind everyone to be extra cautious and safe behind the wheel this holiday season. In looking at the data regarding traffic crashes through October of this year, it looks as though the numbers for injury accidents are trending to finish slightly lower than last year.

In fact, injury accidents are down almost 3.5% from this time last year, and fatality accidents have gone down from six in 2012, to two in 2013 (-66%). We still have two months left, including several major holidays and the possibility of inclement weather. That's why we want to remind everyone to continue their safe driving skills and not let the extra stress and pressure of the holidays cause distracted driving.

Let's do our best to close out 2013 with the continued downward trend we're currently experiencing. The Overland Park Police Department wants everyone to have a safe holiday season. Together we can make it happen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Buckling Up Could Save Your Giblets

The phrase above sounds funny but the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is certainly a serious topic during the upcoming holiday travel season. 

The Overland Park Police Department will be conducting a Thanksgiving Mobilization S.T.E.P. Campaign from November 25th through December 1st.  This task is being conducted with the goal to focus on DUI violations, reduce alcohol related auto accidents, and discourage impaired driving.  Officers will also be focusing on seat belt violations, texting while driving, and distracted driving.

According to the MADD website, drunk driving deaths have increased for the first time in six years. And not just by a little by almost five percent. Data just released shows that 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2012 – one every 51 minutes. This means that as we approach the holidays, thousands of brokenhearted families, friends and loved ones are facing empty chairs at the dinner table.      

The risk of being involved in a serious or deadly car crash increases when the number of cars on the roadway increases, and the long Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year. So we want to remind everyone that your seat belts can save your life – and those you are traveling with.

This Thanksgiving, the Overland Park Police Department, highway safety advocates, and law enforcement officers across the country are spreading the message and reminding travelers to always wear their seat belts anytime they're riding in a motor vehicle.

According to NHTSA, seat belts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011. In fact, research shows that with proper seat belt use, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.  

Since such a simple step can be the difference between life and death, one would think everyone would always wear their seat belts while in a car. Yet that is not the case. Too many people still don’t use these lifesavers, and unfortunately, deaths which could have been prevented keep occurring every day.

Remember: Buckle Up America - Every Trip, Every Time. You’ll be thankful you did.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Wait, You're Not Supposed to Leave"

On November 14th around 10:33 p.m., Overland Park Police responded to a report of an attempted armed robbery that occurred at a restaurant in the 10500 block of Metcalf Ave.  

The suspect entered the business and demanded the employee to open the cash register. He claimed to have a weapon in his pocket that he would use if she didn't comply.  Instead, the employee quickly left the register area and yelled for others inside to call 911. Our suspect fled the business without the cash after the cashier’s unexpected maneuver. 

Thankfully, no one was injured and, better yet, the would-be robber went away empty-handed. However, we still want to identify him and hold him accountable for his actions.

The suspect is described as a white male in his early 20’s, approximately 5’10” tall, with a thin build, short dark hair, and an olive complexion.  He was wearing a black jacket and dark pants.  The suspect was seen leaving the area in a silver Jeep Liberty.

Please look at the pictures below and if you have information on this person’s identity, contact the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8750.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Weather Awareness Day

Did you know that today is Winter Weather Awareness Day? November 20th has been designated this year by the National Weather Service in Topeka and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management as a day to remind Kansas residents to prepare for the hazards winter weather can bring.

Winter weather can bring rapidly changing conditions but there are several things you can do ahead of time to prepare for any possible hazards the season  may bring. Knowing how to prepare for these circumstances can make all the difference when adversity sets in.

According to Overland Park Emergency Management Coordinator, Kyle Burns, "Emergencies happen; being prepared for an emergency can help protect you and your family. The whole point of being prepared is to do as much as possible before a major event occurs."

Burns also goes on to say that it is very important to be prepared in case a winter storm strikes.   The following things should be done each year before the winter season arrives:

1. Create a plan for what your family will do in case of a significant storm. 
2. Get your car fully checked and winterized.
3. Have supplies available in case you are stranded for a period of time in your home or at work. 

You can find more information about preparing for emergencies and the coming winter weather at http://www.preparemetrokc.org.

Additional weather-related information can be found online at the following sites (courtesy of The Adjutant General’s Department of  Public Affairs Office): 

For a complete list of items for a home or car emergency kit, go to www.ksready.gov . Additional information on preparing for winter weather is available from FEMA at www.fema.gov, the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org, or your county emergency management office.

Winter road conditions are accessible by dialing 5-1-1 from your mobile phone or by going to the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://511.ksdot.org/

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thin Blue Line

     This week the Independence Police Department is mourning the loss of one of its own.  Our hearts go out to the family of Officer James Lockard, who was laid to rest this week.  When I say family, I am not just referring to his mother, father, siblings, or spouse.  I am referring to a much larger family, consisting of men and woman all over the country who stand together as officers to form the "Thin Blue Line". 

     When looking back at the history of the term "Thin Blue Line", there is evidence of generations of those who took an oath to stand together to protect those who could not protect themselves.  The term was derived from the original "Thin Red Line", which was a military action led by British Army Field Marshall Colin Campbell, in 1854.  Campbell lined up his men, the Red Coats, two abreast and marched into a battle in which they were severely outnumbered.   Campbell told his men, "There is no retreat from here, men.  You must die where you stand."  Campbell's relationship with his men was known as being like a family.  The Thin Red Line was victorious, as the men stood side by side and marched into battle.

     Often we see television shows and movies that depict police officers and the daily drama they are enveloped in.  While these depictions provide entertainment to many, they do not edify the strong bonds that are formed between officers.  You can ask any officer on the street and they will tell you some of the best friends they have ever had were fellow officers.  Similar to family dynamics, there are good times and bad, times to laugh and times to cry.  All of the experiences we share further strengthen our bonds with each other and we know it's more than just friendship, it's family.

     Police officers take an oath to serve and protect, but what is not mentioned is the sacrifice they will make and the sacrifice their families make for the benefit of a stranger.  Making these sacrifices and experiencing the most trying of situations is what draws this family closer together, as we depend on each other to get through each day and keep our heads high.  While our hearts ache for Independence PD, know that we will never forget and we will continue to march on, with our heads high, as one Thin Blue Line.