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City showcases success in crime reduction PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 12:37

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of the story recapping the 1-cent sales tax presentation given at the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission (Nov. 28) and will focus on what was said about crime prevention.

Back in the early 2000s, the city of Liberal had the second highest crime rate per capita, with only Kansas City in front of it. Since the passing of the 1-cent sales tax 23 years ago, however, many positive changes have taken place in the community thanks to work done by law enforcement. 

“Crime prevention makes up 5 percent of the sales tax,” City Manager Mark Hall began. “In 1994, there really wasn’t an idea of what crime prevention should do. What was presented in 1994, like housing, we knew there was a need, but we weren’t sure how to go about it and we needed to come up with a strategic plan.”

Some of the items included in this 1994 plan included providing sources of communication between all agencies in Seward County providing drug programs or assistance, providing a source to pool all assessments and studies by agencies, and provide a source to study alternative school for Seward County, all of which have been done, according to Hall. Hall also showed suggestions from 2000, which included providing more programs for youth, reviving the crim hotline and stationing a full-time officer at Liberal High School and using a drug dog there, among many others. 

“The majority of things, as you can see, that have been our responsibility, we have been able to do that through crime prevention,” Hall said. “And as you can see from the 2010 list, we have done several things there like the crime hotline, graffiti removal and as you go down further on that 2010 list, all those have been done. I would like to point out, and some of you commissioners have taken part in, is truancy. Truancy was not a suggestion in 2010 – there was no truancy court, which is involved with that, but truancy was not on that list of suggestions. And that is the responsibility of the commission to want to better this community and I believe the commission saw truancy is truly a problem, and it’s been a great program. As the city evolves and the needs change, we always look at this list, which has been looked at since 1994, and there are things that come up that are needed and truancy was one of those things. I know three of the current commissioners and the new incoming commissioners have all been involved.”

Hall also revisited a Sept. 2007 article from The Hutchinson News regarding concerns local officials had regarding the city’s high crime rate at the time. The article contained quotes from Rene Rosengrant about how she was afraid for her family’s safety due to gang activity and other violence going on at that time. 

“As you can see, city officials were dismayed when the Kansas Bureau of Investigation released statistics that showed Liberal’s crime rate was the second highest in the state,” Hall said. “This is something our police department has had to deal with and the reason I bring this up is in the mesh of economic development, quality of life and crime play a huge part in that because why would you come and shop in Liberal if there’s high crime? Why would you invest in Liberal if there’s high crime? If I have a business and millions of dollars, why would I go to the second highest crime rate per capita in the state of Kansas? What we asked through the police department is that you are part of our cure, you’re part of the sales tax, and the need is there to reduce crime.”

Graphs for numbers recording part one crimes (which include murder, rape, burglaries, etc.) and part two crimes (which include drug possession, DUI, etc.) were also shown and both showed a marked decrease since 2006. Some more graphs and numbers were shown to the commission.

“The people in the police department have always worked in stride and with the chief under these directions because we did have a change in chiefs,” Hall said. “This has been our goal and the result for the future of Liberal is very positive and why we see the interest in retail and even manufacturing and industrial. We were number nine on the list of safest places to live in 2013 and going from having the second highest crime rate per capita in the state of Kansas to number nine on a list of safest place, that’s pretty impressive and shows what we’ve been able to do through crime prevention.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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