(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph Police Department's special operations may be reducing the city's crime rate.
For three years, SJPD and Highway Patrol have taken to the skies with a helicopter in a joint operation targeting traffic violators fleeing from police. So far this year, special operations have resulted in 38 arrests and 210 traffic stops.
Captain Jeff Wilson said the bird's-eye view from the chopper gives the police department an advantage they don't typically have in day-to-day patrols.
“I have to believe that that has assisted us in decreasing some of the criminal behavior,” said Captain Jeff Wilson, St. Joseph Police Department.
Mayor Bill McMurray said the city's crime rate continues to go down in comparison to last year. McMurray looking at March's monthly police activity report said, "the really serious crimes overall were lower in March of 2021 with 882 crimes this year, compared to 1,100 crimes last year. So, that's a significant drop and I think the helicopter operation is helping.”
Officers said criminals are getting the message from the special operation that crime won't be tolerated.
Wilson said the community has been appreciative of the effort the police department and troopers have put in on keeping the city's streets safe.
“I think the public appreciates that. They don’t like the idea that some folks think they can drive in any manner they want to, creating a risk to those innocent folks on the street,” said Wilson.
From the monthly police activity report, it shows St. Joseph's robberies, motor vehicle theft and burglary decreasing in 2021.
According to SJPD:
- 8 robberies so far in 2021 compared to 12 by this time last year.
- 99 motor vehicle thefts in 2021 compared to 144 this same time last year.
- 82 burglaries so far in 2021 compared to 168 reported by this time last year.
While there's been a decrease in most theft in the city, aggravated assault has skyrocketed.
SJPD reports 103 aggravated assaults so far this year compared to 46 this time last year. Officers said the increase has been primarily domestic assaults with 80 occurring this year compared to 19 this same time last year.