Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Prepared: Severe Weather

Although Severe Weather Awareness Week ended on March 7th, yesterday's tornadic storms that struck the Northwest Missouri area should be a reminder to us all to begin planning and preparing for possible severe weather conditions. Luckily, no one was injured yesterday, but there was some significant property damage in Trenton, Missouri.

In Kansas, mid to late April through mid June historically has the highest tornado frequency. Thankfully, Overland Park and Johnson County have been very lucky to have avoided a direct hit from a devastating tornado in recent history. However, we want to make sure you’re as educated and prepared as possible in the unfortunate case that day ever comes.

If you’ve been outside in a residential area when one of Overland Park’s 37 tornado sirens has sounded and severe weather was imminent, there was a good chance you observed a patrol car driving through the neighborhood advising residents to take cover.

The Take Cover Plan is a proactive measure to warn citizens to take cover from an impending or confirmed tornado. When this plan is implemented during severe weather, all field units equipped with emergency equipment will activate their emergency lights/siren and drive slowly through the immediate area utilizing their PA system to advise residents they should immediately seek safe shelter (Take Cover).

Residents taking shelter during a Tornado Warning should seek further instructions from TV or radio broadcasts to ensure the threat has passed and it’s safe to leave their shelter.

Please familiarize yourself with the terms below to help keep you and your family safe:

 Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Issued when severe thunderstorms are possible across the watch area. A severe thunderstorm features hail larger than 1” in diameter, wind speeds greater than 57mph, and can produce tornadoes.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when a thunderstorm is expected to produce hail greater than or equal to 1” in diameter, or wind gusts greater than 57mph, usually based on radar data.

Tornado Watch: Issued when severe thunderstorms that have the capability to produce tornadoes are expected. Typically, wind shear is more favorable for rotating storms when a tornado watch is issued than for a severe thunderstorm watch.

Tornado Warning: Issued when a thunderstorm is expected to produce a tornado based on radar detected rotation or if trained storm spotters report a tornado. A warning may also be issued if storm spotters call in a report of low level rotation. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Results of Yesterday’s Driver Awareness Campaign

Listed below are statistics related to the Driver Awareness Campaign conducted by the Overland Park Police Department on Wednesday, March 26th. 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.

Speeding – 39

Adult Seatbelt – 14

Insurance Violation – 9

Red Light Violation – 1

Turn Violations – 2

Improper Turn – 1

Other Violations - 1

Driver’s License – 3

Tag Violations – 4

Total Citations – 73

Drug Arrest – 1

Warrant Arrests - 1

Total Arrests - 2

The primary goals of the monthly enforcement initiatives are to reduce motor vehicle collisions through selective enforcement, education and deterrence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Options for Making a Police Report

No one wants to be the victim of a crime, but what do you do if you are? First of all, if you find yourself in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately. If you are in a non-emergency situation, you can contact Police Dispatchers at 913-895-6300. They would then dispatch an Officer to your location to complete your report. 

In certain situations that may not require an emergency response or immediate attention, you have the option of making a report at our Sanders Station,12400 Foster Street. Please sure to bring all items of evidentiary value (paperwork/documentation) so we can complete the report without having you make unnecessary trips back home. 

Speaking with an officer in person is not your only option. Our Online Police Reporting allows you to complete a report and retrieve a case number, which in many cases is all that you're needing at the time.

We allow submission of non-emergency reports that you may file immediately, with no wait. Then you can print a copy of the report for free.


  • The following types of reports may be completed online:
  • Harassing, threatening or obscene phone calls
  • Theft of: motor fuel, services, items from a vehicle, or other miscellaneous thefts
  • Suspicious activity or people
  • Vandalism
  • Lost license plates-not stolen
  • Lost property such as cell phones, wallets, purses, etc.
  • Possible drug activity in a neighborhood (that is not occurring at the moment)
  • Unlawful use of a credit or debit card

All reports filed with our Online Reporting System are reviewed by personnel. After review, a police officer or detective may contact you for further investigation, if needed. Reports with limited information or no leads do not get assigned to an investigator, so details are imperative. This reporting method can be found on our city website at the following link: http://www.opkansas.org/city-government/police-department/makingrequesting-a-police-report/online-police-reporting/

Monday, March 24, 2014

False Alarms

Last year Overland Park Police responded to approximately 6200 alarm calls. More than 95% of these alarms were false in nature.

False alarms can be caused by a variety of reasons. Pets can set off motion detectors, visitors can enter the wrong code, employees have the wrong security word or code, and the list can go on. With an alarm call having the potential to tie up two officers or more for more than 30 minutes; it is imperative that the system works properly. Just as important is knowing how to use that system. Make sure anyone who will be using the system has the proper codes or contacts.

False alarms do have consequences. The City allows for 2 false alarm occurrences a year with no penalties. Each occurrence after that carries a fine. Fines can range from $50 to $250. Alarms can be beneficial, but making sure the system is properly designed for your needs may prevent a false alarm.

A permit is required for all alarms within the City. You may apply for a permit at www.crywolf.us/overlandpark. The permit fee is $10.00. For more information please go to the the City of Overland Park website at: 
http://www.opkansas.org/city-government/police-department/false-alarms-and-fines/

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Didn't Do It

There are a few things officers in uniform hear more than anything else.  “I didn’t do it,” for example.  Most officers have heard this hundreds of times within the first few years of their career.  The statement doesn’t necessarily come from someone in custody proclaiming their innocence.  Actually, more often than not, it comes from the fun loving individual who is making a jovial statement.  We try to laugh this off no matter how many times we hear it.  While the “I didn't do it” comment can be funny, there’s another comment officers hear just as frequently and it usually makes an officer cringe.  For it to be understood best, we will probably have to set up the scenario for you.

Imagine for a moment that a mother or father is standing with their young child in a restaurant.  A pair of officers, in uniform, walks in to the restaurant to grab lunch.  The mother or father turns to the child and says, “You better be good or they’ll take you away.” 

Here’s another scenario for you, and one that could very easily happen.  That same child gets separated from their parent at the mall.  They become frightened because they can not find their parent.  In a child’s mind, they might think they are in trouble or they have been bad.  Remember that moment when that parent told their child, “You better be good or the police will take you away.”  Do you think that child is going to want to find a police officer in uniform to ask for help?

One can’t deny that teaching children right and wrong or to respect law enforcement at an early age is important.  Helping them understand there are consequences for our actions is part of the “right and wrong” lessons, but the last lesson we want a child to learn is to be afraid of police.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Oh My My How Things Look Different - S.W.A.T.

There's no question that there are a LOT of photographs taken in police work.  Crime scenes are documented and recorded to build a case and preserve evidence.  One of our officers once said he seemed to take only "unhappy" or depressing types of photos.  It can seem that way when day in and day out we are presented with tragic moments that get forever frozen in time.

But not everything is tragic.  For your benefit - and the benefit of a few officers who could use a few fun memories - we did some digging and pulled some of our own Throwback Thursday photos.  It was so much fun seeing some of these photos again that this just might be something we do a little more frequently.

This week we're starting off with a bang.  Here are a couple of SWAT or TAC photos that have been filed away and needed to come out for a few days.
 




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Person Behind the Badge

They submitted an application.  They took the written test.  They were questioned in front of a board of interviewers.  They allowed investigators to dig deep into their past and go as far as talking to their neighbors.  They took a polygraph, did a physical agility test and even talked to a department psychologist.  All of this they did to have the chance at being employed as a police officer.

The number of candidates is usually staggering.  To be selected is an accomplishment all of its own.  If they are selected they will raise their right hand and swear:

"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."

From that moment until they day they decide to leave law enforcement they will be known as a police officer.  When they are introduced at gatherings they may even be introduced as “So and So - he or she’s a police officer.”  For most people, if their employment comes up, it doesn’t usually come up like it is part of their name, but for a police officer, it’s different.  The job becomes their identity.  They almost in a sense become the badge, but don’t forget; the person wearing that uniform is a father, mother, sister or brother.  While they have sworn to do all the things in that oath of honor, at the end of each shift, they trade out that uniform for regular clothes.  Because behind that badge, is a person, not all that different from you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

But Officer, This is How I Go Home

The last thing you want to deal with after a hard day at work is a road closure.  And if, on your way home that is what you find, you might ask yourself, “Do they really have to close the intersection?”  Unfortunately, for both the officer and the motorists trying to get home, the answer’s likely yes.

When officers make the decision to close a roadway, lane of travel or intersection, they have done so to keep the public safe, allow emergency responders to work without having to dodge moving vehicles and/or keep people from damaging their vehicles by driving through debris.  The cones, barricades and lights were put in place to accomplish these tasks.  By attempting to drive around the cones, barricades or patrol cars, you could be placing yourself or others in danger, not to mention you might damage your own vehicle.

Rest assured, the officer probably does not want to be standing out in that intersection telling you that you can’t go the way you want to any more than you want to find a different way home.  It is a rare day that an officer finds themselves stuck directing traffic when the weather is perfect.  Usually it is blistering hot, freezing cold or pouring down rain.  Having that in mind, they will open the road as fast as they possibly can and your cooperation will only help that to happen in a timely manner.

Monday, March 17, 2014

It Came Out as a Crash

Just after 1 am on Sunday morning Overland Park dispatch received a call regarding a motor vehicle accident in the area of College Boulevard and Mastin Street.  This was dispatched to officers as an “unknown type accident,” meaning the extent of injuries to anyone involved was unable to be classified due to lack of information.

We all know that things are not always as they appear at first glance.  This is a case such as that and it was determined this event was a murder-suicide.  The involved parties have been identified as Jamie Lee Newkirk, age 27, and Jason Hershey Crabtree, age 33.

“Why” is usually one of the first things to come up and that continues to be under investigation at this time.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mistake Provides Auto Thieves with the Opportunity

On March 11th, one of our patrol officers responded to a residence to take a report regarding a missing auto from inside their garage. The vehicle, a 2006 BMW, was taken from the garage overnight while the homeowners were asleep.

Our first thought was that someone may have accidentally left the garage door open, which unfortunately is a regular occurrence in a large suburb, but further investigation revealed something different. Apparently, access was gained to the garage by taking a remote from inside one of the residents' vehicles which was parked on the street out front. The vehicle's owner indicated he had been having trouble with the car’s locks and it was left unlocked overnight. 

In this case we were lucky the suspects only wanted to take the vehicle, which was recovered later that day in Harrisonville, Missouri - minus the garage door opener. 

The suspects easily could have made entry into the house where the family was sleeping and this story might have had a tragic conclusion. In most cases, the garage door that leads inside the home is not secured. This can increase the risk of property loss from inside the home or lead to an unwanted confrontation with intruders.

Even though the vehicle was recovered in a short amount of time, we'll have to wait to find out if it was used in other crimes while in the hands of our suspect.

While this case didn't involve an open door, we typically see an increase of open garage door burglary reports during the warmer months.  Some of these reports are about incidents that occur during the daytime hours, but a larger number of these calls take place in the overnight hours when someone forgets to close the overhead door before going to bed.  These overnight crimes happen while victims are usually fast asleep and clueless that someone is rummaging through their garage.

Officers who see open garage doors, especially those seen overnight, regularly attempt to make contact with residents to warn them.  To avoid your own late night wake up call, remember to close those doors and lock all vehicles out front.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Break Crime Prevention Tips - Revisited

Last year around this time we posted the information below on the blog, in hopes of reminding everyone to practice some basic crime prevention tips before they leave town for that sunny destination. Those helpful tips were a good reminder of things you could do to safeguard your home, and they still hold true today.

1.     Don’t advertise you are leaving town: Social media is a great way to share excitement with friends, but wait till after the trip to tell where you’ve been. Don’t broadcast to the criminal element that you and your family will be away for a week. If you have children in college, remind them not to blog about your family plans to be gone.

2.    Create an illusion of occupancy:  While away, arrange for a trusted neighbor to pick up mail, newspapers, and door hangers. If it does snow, make sure someone shovels the walk and takes the trash cans in and out so there is an illusion of occupancy.

3.     Lights, too:  Put lights on timers now so there can be an established look of occupancy (Don’t forget to set the timers for daylight savings time)

4.    Garage and windows:  Keep your car locked and the windows shut even if it is parked in the garage, and take your keys with you. If your house is broken into, there is no need to provide the thief with a car. You also force them to carry items out of a front or back door since your car is parked in the garage blocking the easy exit. Many people un-plug their garage door opener and lock the garage door while they are out of town (Just don’t forget to unlock it and plug it in when you get home).

5.    Alarms:  Make sure a trusted neighbor has a house key and a way to shut off your alarm. If there are storms or electrical issues your alarm could go off several times a day while you are gone. Returning home to find out you are being billed for several false alarms would spoil the end of a relaxing vacation.

6.    In case of emergency:  Make sure a neighbor or relative has your cell number or a way to get in contact with you in case of any home emergency.

7.    Utilities:  It’s always a good idea to turn back the temperature of your water heater, shut off the water to your washing machine (washing machine hose breaks are at the top of the list when it comes to home damage costs). Also having someone check your house daily will give you peace of mind knowing that your pipes aren’t freezing or a garage door malfunction hasn’t opened your garage door while you are away.

8.    Don’t forget about your pet:  If you have pets (especially a dog), a pet sitter can be a valuable asset for crime prevention. The irregular schedule of a person coming and going from the residence, and the sound of a barking dog can be a big deterrent to burglar.

Get a Security Survey:  A crime prevention officer will come to your house to perform a residential security survey. The survey is FREE and will include more tips to help protect your home from being a target.  Call 913-895-6945 or use OPCares at www.opkansas.org to schedule your survey.

Monday, March 10, 2014

School Seatbelt Awareness Campaign Ends

From February 24th through March 7th, the Overland Park Police Department joined other Kansas law enforcement agencies to conduct seatbelt enforcement around area high schools.  The following citations were issued during this campaign:

Adult Seatbelts:  54
Teen Seatbelts (Age 14-17):  50
Exhibition of Speed:  1
No Insurance:  9
Speeding:  7
STOP Sign:  2
Tag Violations:  3

Total Citations:  126

Total Traffic Stops:  135

Friday, March 7, 2014

Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Thunderstorms & Lightning

The information below was provided by Overland Park's Emergency Management Coordinator, Kyle Burns.

Every thunderstorm produces lightning. In the United States, an average of 400 people are injured and 60 people are killed each year by lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term debilitating symptoms. Other dangers associated with thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Despite these statistics, lightning remains an underrated threat amongst Americans. 

Watch the short video below highlighting the importance of lightning safety and then read our list of 10 debunked lightning safety myths. 

Lightning Tips


Additional Resources

Need shareable content about thunderstorms & lightning? Download FEMA's Thunderstorm FACT Sheet.

NOAA Lightning Safety: An excellent resource for information, data, and statistics around lightning and lightning safety. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Statewide Tornado Drill Will be Conducted Today

Johnson County Division of Emergency Management, in coordination with the National Weather Service, will be conducting a test of the outdoor warning siren system as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week Tornado Drill scheduled today at 1:30 p.m. This drill is in addition to the monthly outdoor warning siren system test conducted on the first Wednesday of every month at 11 a.m.

For additional information please visit http://www.jocogov.org/em.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Six People Arrested in Prostitution Sting

Last night, members of the Overland Park Police Vice Unit conducted a one-day prostitution sting that resulted in the arrests of six people. Three females were charged with selling sexual relations within the city limits. Another female and two males were also charged with promoting the sale of sexual relations. 

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. The Overland Park Police Department will continue to confront vice activity in its hotels, motels and apartment communities.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March 3rd - 9th is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

According to the National Weather Service, in 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014, NOAA and FEMA will highlight the importance of preparing for severe weather before it strikes.
Being prepared for severe weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A few simple steps, such as having a disaster supplies kit, could help save your life.

The goal of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to inform the public about severe weather hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. These actions can be used to save lives anywhere - at home, in schools, and in the workplace before tornadoes and severe thunderstorms and extreme weather strikes.

Know your risk:
Every state in the United States experiences tornadoes and severe weather - A total of 267 tornadoes occurred across 25 states during May 2013, including the devastating EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on the 20th causing an estimated $2 billion in property damage. Acting quickly could mean the difference between life and death in these situations. Follow weather.gov to get the latest forecasts.

Take action:
During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, join National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and do your part to prepare now. Being prepared is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against damages caused by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

● Before storms strike, Be a Force of Nature and take the first step to making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. These include developing a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved to make your community safe.

● Sign up for America’s PrepareAthon April 30, take action and share the word to encourage others to participate. www.ready.gov/prepare

Be an example:
● Building a Weather-Ready Nation requires the action of all of us. Each and every person across the country has the potential to Be a Force of Nature when it comes to weather-readiness. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before taking appropriate action.
● Many are more likely to act when the messages are received from a trusted source- family, friends, or a community leader.
● And, history teaches that a lack of awareness and preparation are common threads among all major weather threats. Knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take could save your life and others.
● During this preparedness week we ask you to Be a Force of Nature – Know your risk, take action and be an example, by sharing what you have done, with your friends, family, coworkers, and others.
● Once you have taken action, share your story with your family and friends by creating a video and posting it to YouTube or another video sharing site or post your story on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media site you’re on.

Need ideas for what you can do?
● Ensure you and your family knows your surroundings and risk for specific weather events.
● Have an emergency plan, and know what to do before severe weather strikes. Post your plan in your home where family and friends who visit can see it. Identify an appropriate shelter in your home, neighborhood and community ahead of time. Share this with your neighbor.
● Learn how to strengthen your home and business against severe weather. Pass this on at a community gathering or faith-based meeting.
● Find out from local government emergency management how you will be notified for each kind of disaster and sign up for additional alerts through social media and local news. Understand these local warning systems and signals and share your knowledge with your coworkers and friends. Email these resources to your friends, post to your social media account.
● Remember, once you have taken action; share your story with your family and friends.
● Text your love ones and let them know you are safe and where you are.

To help get more people involved in emergency preparedness, KDEM has instituted an online "Kansas Preparedness Challenge." Completing each monthly challenge makes participants eligible for a prize drawing. Go to www.ksready.gov and click on the "Kansas Preparedness Challenge" link to get started.

For more information on emergency preparedness, go to www.ksready.gov, www.redcross.org, or www.fema.gov.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bank Robbers Apprehended

In case you didn't hear the news on Friday, we were able to catch the suspects that robbed the Interstate Federal Savings on February 27th. Read more information from the press release below.

Three Men Charged 
In Overland Park Bank Robbery 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Feb. 28, 2014

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Three men were charged Friday in connection with a bank robbery in Overland Park, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said. 

Charged with one count each of bank robbery are: 

Randy A. Cornelius, 21 
Allen J. Williams, 23 
Alvin J. Williams, 23 

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges that on Feb. 27, 2014, the three men robbed Inter-State Federal Savings at 8620 Metcalf in Overland Park, Kan. 

An affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges the three men entered the bank at about noon. The first robber made his way behind the teller counter while the second robber confronted an employee in the lobby. The third robber pointed a dark colored handgun at another bank employee and ordered him into the lobby. The second robber pointed a handgun at the stomach of a teller, who gave him money from a cash drawer. The robbers put the money in a green canvas bag and left the bank. 

Investigators traced the license tag of the car the robbers were driving to an address in Kansas City, Mo. Two of the defendants – Allen J. Williams and Randy A. Cornelius – were arrested near an apartment complex at 11315 Colorado Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. 

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Overland Park Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Martin is prosecuting. 

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A criminal complaint merely contains allegations of criminal conduct.