The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 17, 2012

Crime awareness, prevention training slated in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg police Chief Mendy Hulvey would like to see property crime rates drop. A community awareness and crime prevention training session tonight could help, she said.

Hulvey found through research that annual property crime rates increase during recessions. It happened locally in the 1970s, the 1980s and about seven years ago. At the peak, Pittsburg hit 107 crimes per 1,000 residents, according to the crime index.

Pittsburg has slightly more than 20,000 residents, but the figure swells during the day in the employment and education hub for surrounding towns. The crime rate has been on the decline in recent years, down to 63 per 1,000 residents in 2011.

The Pittsburg Police Department created tonight’s training as part of what Hulvey said was “a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to crime” by the department.

“We really want to focus on prevention, (and) help people from becoming victims of crime,” she said. “This is a very strategic approach to that. We have a finite amount of officers, and only so much we can do if we are running to accidents, going on calls. So we want to develop an education program to give citizens tools to better insulate themselves against victimization.”

Sgt. Tim Tompkins said the department has done specific training on an as-requested basis. For example, sororities have requested presentations on rape prevention.

“We’re trying to develop a proactive approach to engage the community,” he said. “We want to give folks the tools to reduce the opportunity to be victimized.”

Tompkins said property crime is one of the most difficult for any law enforcement organization; statistically, it has a low solvability rate.

“Violent crimes have a 70 to 75 percent clearance rate, whereas property crimes have a 15 to 20 percent rate,” he said. “Somebody’s shed gets broken into in the winter and the lawn mower gets stolen, but they won’t know about it until the spring when they go to pull it out.”

Residents often don’t report property crimes, he said, because of a “sense of helplessness that no one will get caught, nothing’s going to get done.”

The training will illustrate to residents what offenders look for when they walk through neighborhoods to develop targets, what residents should look for to assist in preventing crime, and when they should report activity. They also will be shown how to reduce their chances of crimes being committed against them.

Training session

The training will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. today at the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center, 201 N. Pine St., conducted by Officer J.J. Karlinger of the Pittsburg Police Department.

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