Friday, July 29, 2011

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 686 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 20 arrests, 19 alarm calls, 13 accidents, 25 traffic complaints, 10 check the well being requests, 78 traffic stops, 21 disturbance calls (including domestics), 13 suspicious nature calls, 16 assists of other agency requests, 5 narcotics violations, 55 security checks and 9 escorts. This call total is up 7 calls from last week. Yet another busy week.

Well we are now entering into our 3rd week of excessive heat warnings where temperatures have been close to or over 100 degrees on several consecutive days. We did have a somewhat severe thunderstorm right in the middle of the heat wave, and the temperature did drop to a comfortable 72 degrees, but then shot right back up over 100 as soon as the skies cleared. What this means to us is an increase in heat related calls such as to check the well being of the elderly that may live alone, or to check on children or pets left unattended in closed vehicles. The extreme heat and high humidity also taxes our officers who go right on patrolling and handling calls regardless of weather conditions. Wearing dark blue wool blend uniforms, protective vests and about 10 extra pounds of leather bound equipment while performing these duties adds to the discomfort. Fortunately our patrol cars are equipped with air-conditioning, so the time spent in the vehicles is somewhat comfortable. It is a proven fact that when the citizens in the community are uncomfortable and irritable due to weather conditions, our call volume increase, especially domestic dispute calls.

What the extreme heat means to you will vary depending on your situation. It may be as simple as staying home in the air conditioning enjoying a cold beverage and watching Oprah re-runs. For others it may mean that you need to start the car a few minutes before leaving for work or before going home to cool off the car. Still others may need to take special preparation to be able to deal with the severe heat while working outside. Construction workers, landscapers, painters, roofers and road crews will still need to work and perform their duties out in the sun and need to be prepared. Finally we have those that may be unable to leave their homes due to age, medical conditions or desire. Those folks may or may not have air conditioning and may or may not have family or friends to check on them. If you know someone in your neighborhood that lives alone, take just a few minutes to give them a call or stop by and make sure they are not in need of outside assistance.

Another staple of summer besides the heat is of course road repair. This is the time of year the street department takes to the streets and highways and begins repairing all the damage left behind by old man winter. This is the time for pot holes to be filled and curbs and sidewalks to be replaced. It is also a time when the city contracts with various paving companies to come in and pave streets and roadways according to scheduling. These crews are here now and will be moving from job site to job site paving streets. Please pay close attention to warning signs and watch for officers and flag men and women directing traffic. There will be times when changes in traffic flow will create a minor inconvenience but it is much better for all of us in the long run. Please be patient and try to avoid these areas when possible.

This past week, Senior Patrol Officer Josh Campbell of the Street Crimes Unit and Patrol Officer Steve Gray attended Title 19 Cross-Designation Training offered by Homeland Security U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The class is mandatory for officers who wish to become deputized through ICE. These credentials will allow officers who actively work criminal interdiction on the interstate additional assets and intelligence during their investigations. These officers may also be called upon during times of need to assist Homeland Security on additional investigations or emergencies in other geographical areas. The class was a mixture of policies and procedures put on by legal counsel and special agents from Homeland Security.

In closing, school starts in less than 3 weeks and we need to start using caution at school crossings, intersections and in residential areas. We will have a strong presence in those areas for the first few weeks of school. Help us keep the students safe.

Have a great week.

Chief Mark Kearse

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