Archive for Monday, January 3, 2011

Lawrence police expand tactics to reduce crime rate

Lawrence Police investigate an armed robbery at the KU Credit Union in the 3400 block of W. Sixth Street on Monday, July 12, 2010.

Lawrence Police investigate an armed robbery at the KU Credit Union in the 3400 block of W. Sixth Street on Monday, July 12, 2010.

January 3, 2011


Lawrence’s interim police chief often mentions crime prevention and public education as a key component to reducing the city’s crime rate.

Tarik Khatib has emphasized the importance of police interacting with the public during his nearly four months leading the department.

“I do think there is probably a need for additional resources to address the crime problem, but that’s not the complete picture,” he said in an interview last month. “The complete picture also takes into account public education, what people can do to reduce crime themselves and environmental design.”

Khatib discussed Lawrence’s numbers in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports after an annual study by CQ Press in November ranked Lawrence as the 156th safest city in the country.

Related document

Tarik Khatib - Crime Index Questions ( .PDF )

The controversial rankings are calculated by population using six crime categories from the FBI’s report: motor vehicle theft, murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery and burglary.

Lawrence ranked ahead of larger, more urban cities in the state. Topeka was listed as the 255th safest city compared with Wichita at 307th and Kansas City, Kan., at 369th out of 400 total cities. But Johnson County cities Overland Park (44th) and Olathe (49th) fared better in the rankings.

Khatib said the results are similar with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s crime indexes, but he also said Lawrence faces a unique situation in the state as a major university town.

“The activity extends into all hours of the night and draws individuals from other communities as well,” he said.

Lawrence compares more closely with other Big 12 university cities, like Norman, Okla., Boulder, Colo., and Columbia, Mo., but those cities also had lower crime rates.

In the CQ Press survey, Norman ranked as the 70th safest city, Boulder was 105th and Columbia was 143rd.

Khatib said crime indices are useful but they do have some caveats in comparisons. They depend on accurate population estimates for cities, and some crimes don’t fit into a certain category, like drunken driving, so they aren’t counted.

He does consider the numbers to be a concern, and he said department leaders do look at what those other cities are doing. For example, Norman, Okla., voters have approved a public safety sales tax that has included funding for additional officers and equipment.

Lawrence city leaders would need to make any decisions about additional police positions or resources, but Khatib said the department is now focusing on three areas:

• New recruitment tactics to more quickly fill positions affected by attrition.

• More education efforts to increase public awareness and minimize the chance of becoming a victim.

• Having the department give more input in environmental design of buildings, including better outside lighting, safer fencing or camera systems to help “reduce the atmosphere conductive to a crime occurring.”

Khatib has been serving as interim chief since September, when police chief Ron Olin retired from the department and became the director of security and internal controls for Kansas Athletics Inc.

City Manager David Corliss is conducting a national search for a new permanent chief. City leaders have said they expect internal candidates to be in the mix as well. Khatib has applied for the permanent position.


squawkhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

A better way to reduce crime in Lawrence? Put a razor-wire fence around the KU athletic dept. and athletes. That should significantly reduce crime by about 90%.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Crime in Lawrence is definitely a valid concern, and has gone up quite a bit since I moved to the area about 15 years ago.

The fact that we are less safe than other university towns is particularly troubling.

I wonder how much of the crime is related to alcohol use and poor choices made related to that, specifically among the student population.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you. I hear so many "attempt to locate" calls over the police radio, but rarely do I hear them actually located. These are usually called in by regualr citizens who see cars being driven erractically. I think a lot more good is done by patrolling rather than bar checks. Kids don't stop going to bars because they are scared of getting caught.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Crimes like burglary and robbery can also easily have an element of drinking and poor decision making involved - for example, someone gets drunk and wanders down an alley at 2am alone, and gets robbed.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 5 months ago

good point- i know that when I was a young pup, I got myself in some really stupid situations from a lack of good judgement-induced by alcohol.

sk_in_ks 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't see college kids perpetrating more crimes than other groups of people (except for fake IDs and underage drinking, maybe), but I think they may be at higher risk for becoming the victims of crime than the general population, since they are young, often on their own for the first time, etc. Criminals may see them as easier targets.

Graczyk 7 years, 5 months ago

So crime has increased since you moved to town? Interesting...

xr650rsource 7 years, 5 months ago

Find a way to reduce false burglary alarms, and to get people to stop calling Police to deal with ex's, and troubled kids. That should free up some resources.

Missingit 7 years, 5 months ago

Smitty, Hutchinson is free but I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. Plus I miss quoted Hutchinson is not free. Every time a ticket gets written the Hutchinson law enforcement center get a portion!

xr650rsource 7 years, 5 months ago

Find a way to reduce false burglary alarms, and to get people to stop calling Police to deal with ex's, and troubled kids. That should free up some resources.

xr650rsource 7 years, 5 months ago

Find a way to reduce false burglary alarms, and to get people to stop calling Police to deal with ex's, and troubled kids. That should free up some resources.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years, 5 months ago

"Topeka was listed as the 255th safest city ... and Kansas City, Kan., at 369th out of 400 total cities."

Perhaps the fact that Lawrence is located between them might give us a clue as to our greater crime problems. Columbia is far from either St. Louis or KC, Norman is next to OKC, which has a rank of 50th safest, and Boulder is just rich. In fact, Boulder , Olathe, and OP have median incomes that are more than double that of Lawrence. This makes a difference, not only in the number and types of crimes but, also, in the police to citizen ration and the size of the transient population. (Note: I am not saying that all homeless people are criminals. However, addiction and previous incarceration are major causes of homelessness as well as being linked to increased crime.)

I would like to see an analysis of the crime in our city by residence of the perpetrators. Are they locals, transients, out-of-towners, or college students.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

That might be a factor, but wouldn't necessarily explain why crime has gotten worse over the last 15 years here.

somebodynew 7 years, 5 months ago

Well there are two easy explainations jafs - more people than 15 years ago and more crime being reported by people. Then add in the fact that years ago, everything was HBO (Handled by Officer) as opposed to everything requiring a report.

Now, not saying it is all "numbers", crime has increased a lot, but there is a lot more crime in society in general (I feel).

And Mari - you would be (and a lot of people would be) surprized if someone would do a study on just addresses listed on the jail log for either transient or one of the shelter addresses. There is a LOT of that.

equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 5 months ago

Columbia, MO has become extremely scary and crime-ridden these days; it doesn't speak well that Lawrence statistics show up even worse. I was there in the mid-2000s and used to walk three or four blocks home from work at 9pm--usually after dark. Now I'm told so many shootings and other violent crimes happen in that city that many people are afraid to go out after dark.

One way to reduce crime would be to put a stop to conflict-of-interest policing whereby KU officials and other politically influential locals are allowed to abuse power and misuse the criminal injustice system to blame and smear the victims of their incompetence and malfeasance--that's a pretty nasty and dishonest way to avoid financial liability and tends to involve civil rights and constitutional violations on all sides of authority-- from the employer or school to the criminal justice system.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

You know, I'm sorry for whatever bad things have happened to you.

But, your posts often make no sense and refer quite obliquely to some sort of terrible intrusive strangers doing something insulting. If people have tried to help you in some way, perhaps they thought you needed help.

If they were wrong, fine - but why are you so angry about it? What happened?

Stuart Evans 7 years, 5 months ago

I think the crime problem is a myth. well sort of. the elevated statistics they're tossing out there are intended to get the population stirred up in order to push more law enforcement on us. rabble rabble rabble.

irvan moore 7 years, 5 months ago

the problem is simple to solve, most of the reports involve someone wearing a hoodie, outlaw hoodies.

cowboy 7 years, 5 months ago

Broken families , substance abuse , and a complete lack of jobs that allow the kids ( 17-30) to build a sustainable lifestyle is the main cause of our increased thuggery in Lawrence. The sad part is this population has no representation in the city and the investment monies go to Bioscience , TIF , and other benefits for those who have the knowledge and skills to make it anyway.

soyjuanramon 7 years, 5 months ago

In my neighborhood the homeowners just stay inside their pretty McMansions and look away when things happen. Just last week my 11 year old son went out to get the mail and witnessed 3 teenage boys dividing up bags of what appeared to be a dried leafy substance that "stuck together when they were dividing it." My son came into our house and pulled me to the window where I also witnessed this happening. We did call LPD and tried to report the activity. My son even wrote down the tag number of the vehicle. One of the boys in the white ford ranger tag number 590 AYB lives a few doors away from us and smirked as he stuffed the baggies into a box that he hid under his shirt as he exited the vehicle and walked back to his house.

LPD couldn't do much and by the time an officer arrived, the truck was long gone. LPD didn't even have enough evidence to substantiate a visit to the neighbor kid's house.

The point here is that as citizens we have become lax regarding looking out of our windows and simply observing our surroundings. This not only applies to our community, but to our public places as well. I do not advocate everybody buying guns and having a "stay off my lawn" demeanor, but this desire to not make trouble or keep up appearances (at least on the west side of Lawrence) is our undoing. The police cannot do it all by themselves.

I visited the neighbor dealer-teen boy's parents and his father said, "Good neighbors don't call the cops on other neighbor's kids no matter what the circumstance." Of course the neighbor's son stood behind his Dad and smiled ear to ear.

Parents, citizens and everybody else need wake up to the fact that crime is happening everywhere. Hiring more cops won't fix it. The social norm of just "minding your own business" is toxic to America and it must be replaced with concerned, assertive community organizations that will not stand for it on their street. We should not be afraid to confront those who practice criminal activity or are displaying suspicious behavior. Americans have become like a flock of sheep...just victims of crime, inept at doing anything but run with the herd.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 5 months ago

green leafy substances are no reason for the police to be involved. They should change those laws and get back to fighting real crime. marijuana prohibition is why crime is rampant. we're wasting resources.

Fossick 7 years, 5 months ago

Another way to reduce the crime rate might be to make fewer things illegal. I'm just saying.

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