Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Highlights from yesterday's Board of Police Commissioners meeting

Highlights of the Jan. 26, 2010, Board of Police Commissioners Meeting:

• Rick Easley, president of the board of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, presented the Kansas City Crimestoppers 2009 year-end report. Crimestoppers paid out $58,282 in rewards last year. Some of that went to tipsters who helped solve 24 homicide cases, 51 robberies, 16 aggravated assaults and hundreds of other cases ranging from drugs to theft.

• Ken Henton, principal architect at Hoefer Wysocki, presented designs for the new South Patrol Division/Special Operations Division and multipurpose building to be constructed at Bannister Road and Marion Park Drive. The layout of the whole 25-acre site is designed to look like a police badge. The South Patrol and Special Operations divisions will be combined into one three-story building that will be separated with a large atrium in the middle and comprise about 54,000 square feet. The multipurpose building will feature a full-size gym, workout facilities and house the Bomb and Arson, Canine and Helicopter units and will be about 26,000 square feet. Mr. Henton estimated that construction on the two buildings would be complete by mid-2012. Both buildings will receive a Silver LEED rating for their environmental friendliness.

• Deputy Chief Cy Ritter said he was pleased to report that traffic deaths so far in 2010 are down substantially compared to 2009. There have been two traffic fatalities to date in 2010, and there were 11 at this time last year.

• D.C. Ritter also reported on the impact that last month’s bad weather had on response times and crime. He compared Dec. 20, 2009, through Jan. 10, 2010, to the same period in late 2008 and early 2009. The average temperature during those times this year was 19 degrees, compared to 31 the previous year. There was an average of 5 inches of snow on the ground during those dates this year compared to 0.3 inches the previous year. Because of this, police response times increased by 1 minute and 17 seconds. Calls for service were up by 29 percent – or 892 calls – over last year’s Dec. 20 – Jan. 10. However, crime fell by an average of 33.3 percent for those dates. And despite all the hardship, police officers used 30 percent less sick time this year than they did the year before, and injuries were down 58 percent.

• Major Rosilyn Allen reported that despite assertions in the news media regarding falling accident rates at intersections with red light cameras, police have not yet calculated the impact those cameras are having at the majority of the intersections. They do know that from August to December 2009, violations dropped by 64 percent as drivers got used to the new cameras. Major Allen said police have determined there were seven fewer accidents at the intersection of 39th Street and Southwest Trafficway from March to August 2009 compared to the same time period in 2008. She said police are working to further analyze possible accident reduction at other red light camera intersections.

• Deputy Chief Rachel Whipple reported that a new Police Academy class with 30 recruits began on Monday. Another class is set to graduate in April.

• The Board approved the renewal of the department’s health insurance plans with Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City at the cost of $18.24 million. By adding the department’s dental insurance to Blue Cross Blue Shield, the department was able to negotiate only a 2.5 percent increase in out-of-pocket health insurance for employees.