Friday, January 31, 2014

"Head Out on the Highway"

Seven new Overland Park officers, freshly graduated from the Johnson County Regional Police Academy (JCRPA), stopped by the office today to receive their commission cards on their journey to becoming law enforcement officers.

The members of the 109th JCRPA class have completed their 16-week academy courses and will enter the field training program on Sunday. They will each be assigned three different Field Training Officers (FTO's) who'll watch over them as they put all their training to use on the street. They will also receive daily evaluations from their FTO’s and receive constant feedback on their performances.

They must successfully complete the 12-week field training program before they are allowed out on their own.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Numbers and Such: 30 & 18

The number 30 above represents the number of auto thefts so far this year (thru January 29), and the number 18 is indicative of the number of those that were stolen because they were left warming up.

Just last week (1/21/14) we were talking about the number of auto thefts for 2013 and even mentioned that fact that it was the lowest total during the last sixteen years. Now, the numbers for this year have not started out the way we'd like, but given the lengthy cold-spell we've been under the last few weeks, it's bound to happen.

What don't want to do is see these numbers continue to climb as thieves are thriving on the opportunities we give them when we leave our cars running and unattended - even for a few minutes.

Thieves are finding it tougher to steal cars with the various anti-theft technologies installed by auto manufacturers, so they look for easier targets such as unattended vehicles sitting with the keys in them.

Investing in a remote starter is another way to limit easy access to your vehicle. Anything you can do will be a lot cheaper than the alternative of having to call your insurance agent to explain to them how your car was stolen and hope there was no fine print in your policy disallowing coverage for leaving the vehicle running. There’s also the hassle of trying to get another vehicle to get to work, not to mention replacing anything of value that was inside of it when it was stolen.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Help Us Identify this "Fit Bandit"

The female pictured below is either really involved in personal health and fitness or she has several friends who are. Either way, her actions have gotten her into a little bit of trouble and we would like your help in making sure she's held accountable for her bad decisions.

Our suspect in this case stopped off to do a little shopping at an area retail store and found a few items she was really interested in. In fact, she likes them so much that she takes a nearby duffle bag off the shelf, cuts three Fitbit Flex Wireless wristbands (electronic tracking fitness bands) off their hooks and conceals them in the duffel bag. She then enters the electronics department and cuts off two Jawbone brand wristbands and also conceals them in the duffel bag. 

The female is then captured on video at the back of the store removing the items from the duffle bag and placing them in her purse. The duffle bag was dumped in the women`s clothing section as the suspect exited the store without paying for the stolen merchandise. 

Loss Prevention Officers at the retail store recognized the suspect from a previous theft on December 4th in which she also stole miscellaneous merchandise. 

The surveillance pictures below are from both events mentioned above and appear to be the same person. She was also seen getting into the same dark 4 door sedan which we believe could be an Acura. 

If you have any information on the identity of this female, please call Detective Byron Pierce at 913-535-3193. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Does OPMSAR Stand For?

Did you know that Overland Park has a Mounted Search and Rescue (OPMSAR) unit that assists the police department and other agencies when needed for various emergencies. 

The OPMSAR unit was created to respond to emergency needs in various parts of the City, such as parks and rural areas, where streets or trails are not available. As the "green space" in Overland Park was reviewed, it was clear that the search of these areas would be difficult on foot and impossible by vehicle. A mounted search and rescue team surfaced as a reasonable solution to the need for emergency services in those areas. 

This unit is unique, as the members belonging to the OPMSAR are civilians volunteering their time for training with full-time police personnel to provide a professional response. Every OPMSAR member will provide their own horse that is capable of doing a wide variety of tasks. For volunteering their time, members will receive specialized training and equipment.

Members of the OPMSAR have to pass both a written examination and a practical horsemanship test consisting of basic horsemanship skills and sensory testing. The volunteer mounted unit provides opportunities for the Police Department and citizens to work in partnership with the community to provide equestrian services in a responsible manner. For more information on OPMSAR please contact Sgt. Roger Pesek with the Emergency Services Section at 913-895-6413.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Facts, Stats and Figures: Auto Burglaries

As we continue to look at the stats for the past year, another category that continues to trend downward is that of auto burglaries. 

 2013 saw another decrease in the number of auto burglaries taken over the course of the year as we had a total of 713 reports -  which was a significant drop from the previous year (813).  

Looking at the chart below, you'll see 2013 had the lowest number since 2004, and was the 2nd lowest in the past 16 years. The numbers includes the theft of catalytic converters which is classified as an auto burglary.

The reduction in auto burglaries is the result of many factors, but most importantly it represents how hard the members of this department have worked together with our citizens. 

Auto burglaries do occur in Overland Park, whether you are at home, shopping, or even at the office, but there are a few easy steps you can take to avoid becoming the next victim.

Most thieves do not want to draw attention to themselves as they peruse parking lots or neighborhoods looking for items to steal from vehicles. As statistics have proven, the burglar would rather quietly open a car door at 3:00am than break a window and wake up the whole neighborhood.

With that being said, you’re still at a higher risk of becoming a victim if you leave valuables in plain sight, such as wallets, purses, laptops, I-Pads, cell phones, or other electronic items.

Let’s keep the numbers trending downward by making sure our cars are locked and valuables are out of sight.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Copy a Traffic Stop at 01:42 Hours

At 1:42 this morning it was cold and dark at 75th Street and I-35 Highway.  The only sounds you could hear were from the occasional passing car on the highway.  After sitting there several minutes a train whistle sounded as a northbound train approached on the tracks that run parallel to the highway.  Other than that, it was silent.

Two officers stood there on the outside shoulder of the highway.  Both of them have made it a priority in their career to combat drunk driving and at 1:42 this morning they met at 75th and I-35 to reflect on what had happened there to their fellow officer.

January 24th has come and gone 28 times since that tragic event.  She fought hard for two days before passing away on the 26th. Come Sunday, It'll be 29 years since she was lost to us.  She's been gone more years than she was alive at this point, but she continues to be a reminder that some have given all and that, on any given day, one of us might not go home at the end of our shift.

Besides writing incident and accident reports, one of the officers in the Overland Park Police Department enjoys writing poems.  One of her poems starts out "How's it up in heaven, it was cold down here today.  There are those that miss you more than ever and the pain it doesn't go away."   She wrote it for someone else, but it is fitting for today's blog.

Officer Deanna Rose, I’ll have you know, it was cold down here today, like it was 29 years ago.  And there are those who still miss you.  There are those who won't ever forget you and, most importantly, you still touch people's lives and make a difference.

29 years later there aren’t many left here that knew you personally, but we will make sure that you are not forgotten.

Thank you, Deanna, for reminding us to cherish each day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blood Shortage in Kansas City Area

As first responders in the greater Kansas City area, we see first-hand how critical it is to have an adequate blood supply available in case of emergencies. A press release sent out yesterday by the Community Blood Center (CBC) indicates the blood supply is nearing "critical levels" and they need our help to bring the numbers back up.

“We started to see a decline in late-December and haven’t recovered. The lack of donations over the past few weeks has put the blood supply in an extremely critical state. We actually have less than a half-day supply on our shelves.” said Patsy Shipley Vice President, Donor and Hospital Services.

CBC and other blood centers around the country are experiencing similar shortages due to inclement weather conditions and the flu bug that have kept people at home and away from school and work. Organizations like Community Blood Center need their communities to help with this critical need for the hospitals and patients they serve. In other U.S. cities, the shortage of blood has caused surgeries to be delayed or cancelled. 

“We are asking all eligible blood donors to visit any one of our Donation Centers or community blood drives and bring a friend or family member with them. Every single donation will help at least two hospital patients who rely on life-saving blood.” stated Shipley.

Donors can find a community blood drive by visiting the organization’s web site and clicking the “Schedule an Appointment” icon. Donors are also encouraged to visit one of CBC’s five Neighborhood Donation Centers.

Shipley reiterated, "An adequate blood supply is essential to the health of any community. Therefore, we are asking all eligible donors to help replenish the blood supply by taking just an hour from their day to make that life-saving donation.”

Eligible donors must be at least 16 years of age, weigh a minimum of 115 pounds and be in good health.

Maintaining a regular supply of blood is not easy as the components in blood have a very short shelf life and predicting the demand can often be difficult. By giving blood, every donor is contributing to a nation-wide challenge to provide life-saving products when they're needed.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yielding to Emergency Vehicles

Each year in the U.S., thousands of police and fire vehicles responding to emergency calls never arrive because they were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Did you know the second leading cause of law enforcement duty-related deaths are motor vehicle accidents? Here are some tips to help emergency vehicles reach their destinations safely.

When an emergency vehicle is approaching:

Stay calm.

Pull to the right and come to a complete stop.

If you are traveling on a high-speed road or there is no room to stop, slow down as much as possible.

If you are in the left lane, pull over into the right lane as traffic in that lane moves to the right.

If you cannot move to the right lane because of another vehicle or obstacle, slow and move the right as much as you can and stop.

When an emergency vehicle approaches you while you are stopped at an intersection, stay where you are unless you can pull to the right.

On a 4-lane highway or street without barriers, both sides of traffic should pull to the right.

Be careful when driving by or around a motor vehicle accident or any situation where emergency vehicles are parked and the firefighters are working.

Drivers should stay at least 500 feet behind emergency vehicles.

Never pass a moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights unless directed by a police officer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Facts, Stats and Figures: Auto Thefts

The number of auto thefts in Overland Park during 2013 decreased to their lowest number over the last 16 years. A total of 283 vehicles were taken during the year which is a 13% decrease from the previous year.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report, a motor vehicle is stolen every 40 seconds in the United States. The color of the most commonly stolen vehicle is white, while the color of the least commonly stolen one is tan. 

The list below depicts the make/model of the most commonly stolen vehicles in Kansas during 2012.

1 Honda Accord                         1997
2 Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size) 1994
3 Ford Pick-Up (Full Size)         2003
4 Honda Civic                                 2000
5 Dodge Pick-Up (Full Size)         1998
6 Chevrolet Pick-Up (Small Size) 1996
7 Ford Taurus                                 1999
8 Dodge Caravan                         2000
9 Dodge Intrepid                         2000
10 Chevrolet Impala                         2002

Car Theft StatisticsAccording to Consumer Reports, here are a few things you can do to help protect your car from theft:

Lock your car. It is common sense that many thefts happen to unlocked vehicles. The goal is to make your car less desirable than others, and a locked door is a simple deterrent. 

Never leave your car running unattended and always take your keys with you. Otherwise, you are inviting thieves to drive off with your car. 

Keep windows closed when you park and leave your vehicle. A slender arm or clothes hanger can reach in through even a narrow opening to unlock the door.

Don’t store valuables or expensive electronic devices in plain sight. It’s best to take portable devices with you. 
Park in a well-lighted, public place when running errands and when at home. A car will, obviously, be safer in a garage than in a driveway or at a curb. 

Use a visual warning device, such as a blinking light, as a deterrent. An alarm can be effective, but it is even better if the crook doesn’t break into the vehicle in the first place. If your car is not factory-equipped with these features, they can be installed at a local automotive stereo shop. 

Smart keys or a fuel cut-offs system, aka engine immobilizer, are standard on many late-model cars and can add security. Thieves won’t steal a car they cannot start. 

For advanced protection, install a GPS or radio frequency tracking system in your vehicle to help police find it. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

That's a Lot of Calls

78,228 - That's how many 911 calls were received in dispatch last year. If you add in the other 166,161 calls that came in on the non-emergency and administrative lines, the total number is well over 244,000!

The Dispatch Center is staffed by dedicated and skilled personnel who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

Police dispatchers are trained to ensure the steady advances in technology and computer programming applications are used to expedite services to Overland Park citizens and visitors.

The efficiency of our dispatchers is obvious from the numbers above, and when you think of a police dispatcher, the term "multi-tasking" is a perfect way to describe their main job function. You see, the world of dispatchers can go from serene to near chaos literally in seconds when multiple emergencies occur simultaneously.

It's enough to test anyone’s ability to multi-task while also maintaining your composure under extreme duress. As you can imagine, dispatchers are trained and ready to spring into immediate action, directing responding units such as police and other emergency service personnel.

There are all types of emergency calls that dispatchers handle during their shift, but sometimes there are those calls which really affirm to us that we're making a difference in people's lives.

Around the department we like to share with new dispatchers and officers about the time an elderly male called in asking for assistance during the holidays. He didn’t need any type of emergency help, but just wanted the dispatcher to explain to him how to heat up a frozen boxed pizza.

Now this person wasn't afflicted with any type of Alzheimer's or dementia, but sadly had just lost his wife of many years and we believe he merely wanted to talk to someone during the holiday. The dispatcher was more than happy to assist with the pizza, but also took the time to listen during this time of despair for the recent widow.

Calls like these are just a small sample of the tremendous work being done by our dispatchers and the regular affirmations they receive in helping others through times of crisis, or in this case, loneliness. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013 Crash Factoids - Part II

Monday's blog highlighted the reduction of accident's during 2012, and now we want to share with you information on what the top causes of those accidents were. 

It's no surprise that "Inattentive Driving" is leading the pack again this year and it's not even close. 

12.04.103 Inattentive Driving

No person shall operate a vehicle in an inattentive manner. Inattentive operation of a vehicle is defined as operation of a vehicle without due regard for the road, weather and traffic conditions and other attendant circumstances then existing.

Eating, talking on a cell phone, reading the newspaper, shaving or putting on make-up, or fumbling with the car stereo can all fall under the umbrella of inattentive driving.

1. Inattention 1040
2. Following to Close 605
3. Failure to Yield 531
4. Too Fast for Conditions 379
5. Improper Lane Change 213
6. Under the Influence 131
7. Red Light Running 125
8 Improper Backing 104

Here are some common sense tips from KDOT to help reduce your chances of becoming a motor vehicle accident statistic:

Cell Phones
Cell phones are nice conveniences, but can potentially be deadly. In fact, they are the underlying cause of many crashes. One solution: find a safe place to park before you answer that call. Likewise, if you must make an outgoing call. Another solution: have your incoming cell phone calls routed to your voice mail or message machine until you safely arrive at your destination. "Hands-free" systems are certainly safer, but even these can distract you from the key task at hand—driving. 

Fast Food
OK, we all have to eat…but don’t do it while driving down the road. Searching for that napkin, trying to open that ketchup container or the split second you take to grab a French fry is all it takes. 

Blaring music can prevent you from being able to hear sirens from emergency vehicles, train whistles and the horns of other drivers who may be trying to alert you. 

Lighting up or putting out a cigarette can distract you. So can flicking hot ashes on yourself or dropping a lit cigarette on yourself or on the floor of your vehicle. Smoke can irritate your eyes, causing blurred vision. If you smoke while you drive, be especially careful and realize its potential to distract you. Also remember that smoke-buildup on windows can distort vision. So if you’re a smoker, clean your interior window surfaces frequently.

Slowing down to look at accidents, police cars that have pulled someone over, even looking at articles for sale along the road can cause crashes. Slowing down to gawk at the "action" can affect the driver behind you, who might also be rubbernecking and not realize your car has slowed down.

Loose articles 
Empty pop cans. CD’s. Books. Come to a quick stop and these and similar items start rolling around. If something happens to lodge beneath your brake pedal or your gas pedal, it can become a disastrous situation. Check your car before you drive. Remove or secure any loose articles, which can become projectiles in the event of a crash.

Children and Pets
Dealing with children and/or pets can be extremely distracting, especially if they are crying, fighting, barking and the like. Insist children are buckled securely in their seat belts (or if under the age of four in their child seat). Separate older children if necessary to keep them from squabbling. Provide them with a book to read or a game to play if they are going to be in the car for an extended period. In the case of pets, always use a pet carrier. Nothing can be more frightening—or dangerous—than to have a pet suddenly jump into your lap and impede your ability to steer or see.

Long Trips
It may sound strange, but driving for long periods of time can also trigger driver inattention. Monotony—driving behind the same vehicles, at the same speed for long distances—can lead to road hypnosis, which dulls the senses and makes a driver accident-prone. So, during longer trips, vary your speed from time to time and take frequent, short breaks to keep yourself refreshed and alert. If you tend to tire while driving long distances, keep fresh orange rinds next to you. The smell of citrus has been found to help drivers stay alert. Also, if you have licensed passengers in your vehicle, ask if they can take the wheel for a while so you can take a break.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Don't Go into the Lights

Yesterday morning around 3:20, officers were dispatched to a non-injury accident involving a deer. This occurred in the area of US69 Highway near 183rd Street. There were several officers who responded to the accident and one of them was there merely for traffic control.

While one officer was inside her vehicle, another motorist approached from behind and struck the driver's side door and front fender of her patrol car. The officer had angled her car upon arrival, which greatly diffused some of the blow. The driver of the striking vehicle attempted to swerve out of the way at the last minute, which also helped to minimize the damage.

The officer was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries but, obviously, this could have been a different story. A week ago we talked about the number of on-duty deaths suffered during 2013, and the stats showed traffic accidents as the number two cause of death for law enforcement officers.

The crash investigation is still on-going and this blog is in no way trying to place blame on the driver that morning for what happened, but we simply want to bring this important issue to your attention.

Whether it’s a law enforcement officer, fire department personnel, or one of the many Department of Transportation workers on the streets and highways, it’s imperative we do everything we can to protect those who work on our roadways.

Here in the state of Kansas, we have several laws specifically designed to protect these individuals:

Move Over Law:

Kansas law protects everyone who works along our highways. This includes maintenance crews, construction workers, law enforcement officers and emergency responders. The law requires motorists on four-lane highways to switch to the lane farthest from any stationary vehicle displaying flashing lights, if they can do so SAFELY. On two-lane roads, motorists are required to slow down and proceed with caution.

Move It Law:

The "Move It" law states that all drivers involved in traffic crashes must move their vehicles out of the lane of traffic to keep traffic moving, except when there are injuries, the vehicle can't be moved or one of the drivers involved appears to be intoxicated.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Retiring OP Police Chief to Head District Safety and Security

(Information provided by the Police PIO)

Overland Park Chief of Police John Douglass today announced his retirement from the city after 41 years of service. His retirement is effective Friday, April 18.

“On behalf of the City Council and entire Overland Park community, I want to congratulate Chief John Douglass on his retirement,” said Mayor Carl Gerlach.  “Overland Park’s national reputation and recognition as one of the safest communities in the country is a true testament to Chief Douglass’ leadership of the Police Department and his commitment to this community.”

The Shawnee Mission School District will tap Douglass to lead the district’s safety and security efforts.  The appointment of Douglass as director of safety and security will be officially approved by the board at the January 27 meeting.

Douglass joined the Overland Park Police Department as a patrol officer in February 1973. He has held various ranks including detective, sergeant, a member and commander of the Emergency Response Team (SWAT), lieutenant, major and assistant police chief. He served as acting police chief from December 1995 and was appointed Chief of Police in March 1996.

During his tenure, Douglass was recognized for many accomplishments including implementing new crime fighting strategies such as information-based policing and strategic deployment. This policing and deployment strategy has been replicated in other communities nationwide.

He also initiated a nationwide benchmarking group, which enabled police departments in comparable cities to accurately share and evaluate data and initiatives.  “I want to thank Chief Douglass for his 41 years of outstanding service, including nearly 18 years as Police Chief,” said City Manager Bill Ebel. “Chief Douglass is a leader among his peers. John has made an enduring impact on law enforcement in Overland Park.”

“The process to replace Chief Douglass will be a deliberate and thoughtful one. The position of Police Chief is vitally important to Overland Park,” Ebel said.

During his career in law enforcement, Douglass has garnered widespread respect for leading important initiatives including In Defense of our Schools, a multi-jurisdictional task force focused on school safety and security issues.  He has worked closely with area school districts, including Shawnee Mission to implement the School Resource Officer (SRO) and other successful programs.

“School safety is more important than ever and we are pleased to have Chief Douglass, who has a wealth of experience and familiarity with our schools and community, join us to lead our district police force and safety and security efforts,” said Superintendent Jim Hinson.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 Crash Factoids

In 2013, we took the lowest number of crash reports going all the way back to the last 15 years. The numbers are continuing to trend downward and that's something we can all be proud of.

During the year there were a total of 4,293 crashes that occurred in the City of Overland Park. That number showed a slight drop from the previous year (4,330), but even more encouraging was the reduction in the number of injury accidents from 837 in 2012, to 807 in 2013.

 Interesting Note: More crashes occurred on Fridays (757) than on any other day of the week, with Thursday coming in a close second with 738. The least number of crashes occurred on Sundays (352).

September (391) and May (389) rated the highest in relation to the number of crashes taken on a monthly basis during 2013.

Friday, January 10, 2014

You Make It Too Easy

Since a brand new year just started, our Crime Analysis Unit (CAU) is busy pulling a ton of data from reports and databases in order to provide the rest of the department with final statistics for 2013. The amount of information they analyze at this time of year is incredible, but they generate this type of information on a regular basis throughout the entire year.

One interesting stat gleaned from last year's totals was the number of auto burglaries that occurred in the city that may have been prevented by simply locking the doors of the vehicle when left unattended.

In 2013, the Overland Park Police Department took a total of 628 auto burglary reports and, of those, 298 were entered when the vehicle was left unlocked. For you math wizards out there, that equates to almost half of all auto burglaries (Ok, it's only 47% but we’re rounding up in this case). Just think of how much lower the total would be for the year if the owners had taken the time to secure their vehicles.

The simple solution is obvious in order to reduce the majority of these "crimes of opportunity."  Lock it up and don't leave valuables in plain view!

Here are some other tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of an auto burglary:

Each year, $1.255 billion in personal items and accessories are stolen from vehicles in about 1.85 million thefts; and for every theft, experts estimate, there are several break-ins and attempted break-ins. With these common sense habits and preventative measures, you can greatly reduce the chances your vehicle will become a target.

Lock your doors
While this piece of advice should be a no-brainer, up to a quarter of vehicle thefts are from unlocked cars, according to some law enforcement agencies. Even if you're running into the store for a Coke, that's too long to leave your vehicle's contents open for the taking. Simply locking the doors will deter those who might just be waiting around for an easy target.

Keep it tidy
Almost any worthless personal item that's visible from the outside -- even an empty shopping bag -- could be seen as a valuable or a carrier of valuables. If you have a wagon or SUV that leaves your cargo area on display, consider getting a cover. Most of these vehicles can be fitted with inexpensive retractable covers to help keep shopping bags or other belongings out of sight.

Conceal all the evidence
Don't leave any bait out for thieves; stow your electronics and accessories well out of sight-or better yet, bring it with you. The evidence alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves, so hide that too, including power plugs, telltale iPod adapters, or nav-system windshield suction-cup mounts, and even put the cigarette lighter back in place. 

Stash before -- not after -- you park
Get in the habit of putting shopping bags in the trunk right when you return to the vehicle, rather than after you park at the next place. According to National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) spokesman Frank Scafidi, thieves sometimes linger in busy parking lots looking for valuables being moved out of sight. Don't display to them what you have.

Completely close windows and sunroofs
No, it's not just because thieves might reach in through the gap and open your locks with a coat hanger. Open windows will disable the pressure sensor in some car alarms, leaving the vehicle more vulnerable to break-in and potentially giving thieves more time before the alarm sounds. 

Get an alarm
If you don't have an alarm system, get one. The noise alone may be enough to scare away an inexperienced thief and prevent the break-in. Factory-option alarm systems are generally best, but a carefully installed, properly calibrated aftermarket system can provide just as much safety. Beware, many less-expensive new cars have remote entry but not a true alarm.

Stick with the original audio system
Thefts of car audio components are on the decline, but having an aftermarket system still makes a car more attractive to thieves thinking of breaking in. There's no black market to speak of for factory stereos, and they've become much better sounding in recent years.

Park for visibility
Park in a busy, well-lit area, and avoid concealment from larger vehicles, fences, or foliage. Except for the most brazen thieves, the greater the chances are that someone might see a crime in progress, the lower the chances are that the potential thief will attempt it.

Get physical
A significant portion of vehicles are broken into with the intent of stealing the vehicle itself, so combining several visible simple, inexpensive physical theft deterrents like steering wheel locks (The Club), steering column collars, or brake pedal locks may discourage the would-be thief from breaking in and trying.
Layer your defenses
That's the strategy recommended by the NICB; layers include warning devices such as alarms, wheel etching, or decals; immobilizers; and even tracking systems (LoJack is one). "None of them are foolproof, but if they're used in tandem they can really keep the chances down," agrees Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Sources: The National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Insurance Information Institute, Progressive, and AAA

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fatalities in Kansas Continue Trending Downward

According to a recent report released by the Kansas Department of Transportation, in 2013 fewer people died in fatality accidents in Kansas that any previous year. That's certainly good news and a pattern we're all hoping continues downward.

In 2013, there were 344 traffic fatalities compared to 405 in 2012. Before this year, the previous low was in 2008; the all-time high number was in 1969 when the state saw a staggering 780 deaths on Kansas Roadways.

In Overland Park, 2013 saw a significant reduction in the number of fatality and injury accidents. There were only two fatal accidents this year compared to 2012 that had seven. That's certainly a good number, but one that we can strive to reduce further. This was the lowest number of fatalities since 2004, when we also had two.

Injury accidents also have been trending downward over the last three years.  2013 saw a 3.58% reduction over the previous year and a 9% reduction from 2011 statistics. 

A lot of factors have contributed to the decline, but we can certainly point to our monthly high-visibility traffic initiatives, driver education campaigns, seat belt and DUI enforcements, and responsible driving behaviors.

Let's all continue to do our part in ensuring everyone's safety while travelling on the roadways, whether in Overland Park or driving across the great state of Kansas.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Line of Duty Deaths Down from 2012

2013 marked another reduction in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Of course we want every officer to go home after each shift, so this is a trend we hope continues. 

According to The 2012 LODD (Line Of Duty Deaths) total was the lowest level seen in more than 50 years and the 2013 LODD total was even lower! In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1944 to find a lower level of loss. Consider this: No one wearing a badge today has ever seen a year with a lower level of loss than what we experienced in 2013!

2013 marks the first time since 2008 that Kansas didn't have a law enforcement officer killed in the Line of Duty. Obviously, Overland Park (Officer Deanna Rose in 1985) and Johnson County have been fortunate when it comes to the numbers of officers lost on duty.

The job of a police officer is one that is undertaken with the understanding that, at any point during their career, an officer may give his or her life while in service to the community he or she swore to protect. This can be a hard concept to understand for those not associated with law enforcement, but one that is not taken lightly as we recruit the men and women who will join our ranks each year.

The national statistics are listed below.

Line of Duty Deaths:
2013 - 106
2012 - 123
2011 - 177
2010 - 177

2013 Breakdown:
Aircraft accident: 1
Automobile accident: 26
Boating accident: 1
Bomb: 1
Drowned: 2
Duty related illness: 1
Fall: 4
Fire: 1
Gunfire: 31
Gunfire (Accidental): 1
Heart attack: 14
Motorcycle accident: 4
Stabbed: 1
Struck by vehicle: 8
Training accident: 2
Vehicle pursuit: 3
Vehicular assault: 5

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pets and Extreme Cold Weather

The cold weather we've been experiencing the last few days has been on the extreme side, so much so that we need to think about the vulnerability of our pets. Pets are extremely sensitive to the cold temperatures and need to be protected.

We often think our pets are immune to the frigid temperatures because they are an animal and usually have some type of fur coat, but that is simply not the case. Fur does provide some insulation, but it's not enough to prevent frostbite or hypothermia.  Without proper shelter and care, most animals will not survive extreme temperatures for an extended period of time. 

Keep an eye on the temperature. When it falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's best to keep your pet indoors. Short-haired dogs and puppies should be kept indoors when the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Regularly check your pet's outside water dish to make sure the water is not frozen. Animals can't burn calories without a fresh supply of water and, if they can't burn calories, they'll get cold.

Provide a dry, draft-free doghouse if you must keep your dog outside for any period of time. It should be large enough to allow your dog to sit and lay down comfortably, but small enough to hold in its body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doghouse should be turned to face away from the wind and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. If your pet is in a pen, you might block the wind and water with bales of straw and stretch canvas over the top of the pen. Bring your pet inside if the wind chill really dips or other weather conditions become severe

Use a damp towel to wipe your pet's feet and underside. Ice-melting chemicals can irritate and burn the pads of your pet's feet and can cause serious injury if ingested. Another way to protect your dog's feet is to spray the pads of its feet with cooking oil or purchase boots for your pet.

Keep your pet's coat well groomed. Matted fur won't properly protect your pet from the cold.

If you see an animal outside for an extended period of time during the extreme cold, and don't see any type of protective shelter in place, please call the Overland Park Animal Control Unit at 913-895-6300.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Took Them Off Their Feet

Drive around the City of Overland Park and you'll notice that many of the residential sub-divisions have a cool sign, a fountain, or some type of ornamental objects displayed at the entrance to distinguish their neighborhood from others.

One such subdivision, Rockwood Falls, had one that featured three full-sized bronze deer statutes, as well as over a dozen bronze maple leaf light covers. If you look at the pictures below, you'll see how beautiful they were but, sadly, now they're gone.

Someone---we're guessing scrappers---sawed them off at the feet and removed them from their scenic location. Now there's nothing left but hooves set in the cement (see the other pictures below).

Our guess is that they've already been melted down and sold for scrap metal (we'd sure love to hear the story the thief told about how he acquired them), but we're hoping for information to help us identify who stole the bronze deer and get a little restitution for the victims involved.

If you have any information on this case, please contact the Overland Park Police Department at 913-344-8767 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Comes In Like a Lamb

The emergence of 2014 for the City of Overland Park was really quite uneventful as there are no major issues to report.

The police department was prepared with extra officers on the streets and thoroughfares during a DUI Saturation Patrol. There were 25 people stopped from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM, with 17 citations issued and two arrests for driving under the influence. As a whole, there was only a total of four DUI arrests made during the night. Also, one pedestrian was arrested for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The blog on December 31st stressed the importance of being responsible citizens this year and we believe the results speak for themselves. On behalf of the City of Overland Park and the police department, we'd like to thank you for making good decisions to close out 2013, and wish everyone a safe 2014.