Police strategies result in steep decline in crimes

2011 Public Safety Report

Photo courtesy of Missouri City. At left, community partnerships have been essential in helping police prevent and reduce crime. At right, since its formation in September, the Burglary and Auto Theft Taskforce has successfully reduced auto thefts and auto break-ins.

Intelligence-led strategies, community partnerships and prevention programs have helped the Missouri City Police Department significantly reduce crime citywide for the second consecutive year.

The public safety initiatives were so effective that many of the worst felonies, classified as Part 1 crimes, dropped double digits and the worst felony, murder, dropped triple digits.

During the March 5 City Council meeting, Chief Joel Fitzgerald shared the following statistics with Members:

• Murders fell 100 percent—from 5 offenses to 0
• Rapes fell 25 percent—from 12 offenses to 9
• Robbery was down 23.81 percent—from 42 offenses to 32
• Aggravated assaults were down 53.75 percent—from 80 offenses to 37
• Motor vehicle thefts dropped 30 percent—from 60 offenses to 42
• Burglaries dropped 5.78 percent—from 294 offenses to 277
• Thefts dropped 1.21 percent—from 829 offenses to 819

Part 1 crimes overall were reduced by 8.02 percent over the year—from 1,322 offenses to 1,216. All of the figures will be reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety later this year. For consistency in comparisons to cities locally and nationwide, 2011 statistics were compiled using the Uniform Crime Reporting method, which records only the most serious crime in any incident. The Federal Bureau of Investigation uses the system to publish an annual report on the state of crime across the country.

“We are cautiously optimistic about downward trends, because many factors contribute to declines in crime,” Fitzgerald explained. “With that said; every dedicated officer serving our citizens works hard on a daily basis and uses a combination of intelligence-led policing tools and good old-fashioned police work to protect our city. They have a strong commitment to the community and do a great job of ensuring citizens are safe and serviced quickly.”

In addition to considerably curtailing crimes against people and property over the past year, Missouri City’s Finest also added eight police officers to the force, received a $893,676 competitive grant and used it to create the four-member Burglary and Auto Theft Taskforce, hired six telecommunication officers in the 911 Dispatch Center and received a $70,000 grant to purchase a Panoramic Camera, which has lenses and curved mirrors that reflect a 360-degree field of view.

Also, the department reached a major milestone in March when it achieved 100 percent staffing with 94 sworn officers working to keep City streets safe.

“Public safety is our Number One priority and we are proud of the accomplishments the fine women and men of this department make every day,” Fitzgerald said. “Since the formation of the Burglary and Auto Theft Taskforce in September, auto thefts have decreased 4 percent over the previous year, and auto break-ins have declined 16 percent. Thirty-seven stolen vehicles have been recovered, 19 auto theft suspects have been arrested and more than $235,000 in stolen property has been recovered.”

In a nod to the Police Department’s exemplary standards and performance, which are recognized nationwide, Missouri City is hosting a prestigious public safety training program for the first time this year. The Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, based in Evanston, Ill., is an intensive 10-week program that prepares law enforcement managers for senior positions by uniquely combining academic principles with practical applications. Classes started on March 5 and participants will receive training considered to be on par with other top level law enforcement executive development programs such as the FBI National Academy and Police Executive Research Forum.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to host this internationally-recognized training class. It is testament to our dedication to provide high-level training and our staunch commitment to collaborate with citizens, using strong public safety policies and principles,” Fitzgerald said.

In the coming year, the Police Department, in partnership with citizens, will work to further reduce and deter crime using the following tools to target all offenses:

*At Annual HOA meetings, police supervisors convey important neighborhood information
*Crime Watch programs, a neighborhood watch that encourages homeowners to report suspicious persons or activities to police
*Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) classes, which arm residents with knowledge of a vast array of crime-prevention techniques and helps decrease crime through education
*Gang education workshops
*The Anti-Gang, “I choose to follow the rules” elementary school program, which teaches elementary school children to say no to violence and drugs
*High-tech, user-friendly tools that can be accessed by clicking “Tracking Crime” on the homepage of the City’s website, www.missouricitytx.gov: Crime Tip Form, a house watch program and the free, crime-mapping national database, called RAIDS Online, which allows residents to monitor offenses citywide
*The Crime Tip Line—281-403-5868. The Tip Line is monitored by officers in the Criminal Investigation Division and callers can leave their contact information for officers or they can remain anonymous.

“These tools allow residents to use the internet to access forms that will get quick responses,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to provide residents with all the best possible ways of getting leads to the Police Department to solve crimes.”

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