For the most part, crimes reported in 2019 are showing a downward trend even in comparison to the record-breaking previous year, said Chief Mike Wilson, of the Atchison Police Department.
It reflects a 19 percent total decline from the 1,709 criminal incidents reported in 2017, Wilson said. The numbers dipped to 1,382 crimes in 2018 that reflected 327 less crimes in 2017. In 2019 the number dropped to 1,271, to reflect a decrease of 111 crimes. In 2017 there were 1,709 crimes reported.
“We are pleased because crime was down again another 8 percent in 2019,” Wilson said. “Crimes continued to go down even more from 2018, which set a record.”
Burglaries remained about the same at 58 only two more reported than the in 2018 when the number was the lowest recorded as APD’s all-time low, Wilson explained.
In addition to a reduction of crimes reported, Wilson said the clearance rate for criminal cases is on the rise.
Police investigated two unrelated cases in 2019 involving two persons shot, both victims survived. The two cases resulted in the arrests of two persons. Kevin Maxey was arrested and subsequently convicted for felony criminal threat. The other case resulted in the arrest of Jacob Reynolds and remains pending in Atchison County District Court.
There were no homicides reported during the past year. However, there has not yet been an arrest in connection with the 2017 Michael Moeck homicide. Police conducted 15 death investigations throughout the past year, which is seven less than the 22 conducted in 2018 that reflects the highest count within the past 5-year period.
There were zero investigations that centered on robbery, homicide, arson and traffic fatalities during the past year. Sex crime investigations checked in at 21 the same amount for 2016, which are the most throughout the 5-year reporting period.
Vehicle thefts numbered 10, the least amount in the previous five years. Wilson said it reflects a 33 percent decrease from the previous year and a 58 percent decline from the amount reported in 2017. Cases involving criminal damage, children in need of care, protective custody, domestic violence and disturbance calls were the least amount police handled within the past five years.
Assault and battery cases both misdemeanor and felonies checked in at 156 for the year, the highest amount within the five-year recoding period.
The number of traffic accidents arose to 379 showing an increase of 52 from the prior year, but injury accidents were 28 percent less than in 2018 and there were no fatalities for the year.
Animal Control has been under the APD authority since 1982. Since July of 2017, Samantha Elias has served at the animal control officer for the City of Atchison. Elias enforces Chapter 7 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atchison as it defines cruelty, noisy animals, vicious dogs, running at large and prohibited animals. The animal control shelter is located at the Atchison City Shop Complex and has the capacity to kennel 10 dogs. The shelter does not house cats.
There were 347 dogs impounded in 2019. Of the impounded dogs, 52 were claimed by owners, 280 were adopted. Ten were euthanized, two died and three remained impounded into the New Year.
Wilson said the APD officers assisted numerous outside agencies concerning their investigations. The agencies included the Doniphan County Sheriff’s Office, St. Joseph, Missouri Police Department, Buchanan County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office, Horton Police Department, Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, KBI, Kansas Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI.
Wilson, Lt. Travis Eichelberger, Lt. Kory Webb, Lt. Al Kelly, Det. Austin Surritt, Sgt. Claude Zacharias, Sgt. Kurtis Page, Sgt. Adam Bush, Cpl. Josh Sinclair, Cpl. Brian Johnson, Cpl. Garrett Loroff, Cpl. Jordan Noll, Master Patrol Officer Kyle Mason, Master Patrol Officer Whitney Wagner, Master Patrol Officer Brian Peterson, Master Patrol Officer Matt Stout, Officer Darren Kelley, Officer Nicole Maendele, Officer Chris Porter, Officer Alex Moore, Officer Katie Brown, Officer Greg Peterson, Officer Jesse Cannon, Officer Joe Ellerman and Elias comprise members of the APD.
The average length of law enforcement experience for the officers was 12 years at the 2019, Wilson said. Capt. Cary Stone and Sgt. Nelson Birkinsha both retired in 2029 after 26 years of service with APD. Stone stepped out of service during March and Birkinsha followed in September.
Administrative Assistant Edna Reder retired in September. She served the department 27 years. Officer Wyatt Richardson left APD this past June to join the Johnson County Kansas Parks Police Department. Greg Peterson, Cannon and Ellerman joined the APD with experience from other law enforcement agencies.
Of the total 13,376 dispatched calls there were 1,271 criminal cases. Of these, 1,079 were cleared. A total of 781 arrests were made. That breaks down to 673 adults and 108 juveniles. There were 346 cases forwarded to the Atchison County Attorney’s Office, the least amount since 2015.
The 806 cases forwarded to the Atchison City Attorney for prosecution in Atchison Municipal Court also is the least amount within the 5-year reporting period and represents a 50 percent decline from 2015 in comparison.
Other highlights from 2019 include:
Completion and grand opening of the Chief Mike Wilson Law Enforcement Center on Nov. 1, a $1 million expansion project that offers 5,390 square feet of new and remodeled space. A design plan and construction plan were accepted to start the project April 10, 2019.
APD and the Alliance Against Family Violence, a Leavenworth-based advocacy group, began a partnership involving domestic violence cases this past year. The officers handled 240 calls of this nature in 2019. The 5-year average is 264 per year. The Alliance provides shelter and crisis intervention services.
APD continued its partnership with USD 409 on a School Resource Officer Program. The program entails an officer assigned to the Atchison High School on a full time basis and also assists at other schools relating to law enforcement issues.
APD continued an association with programs like YMCA Healthy Kids Day, Atchison Hospital Health Fair, Atchison Middle School Job Shadow initiative, Understanding Problems. Wilson defined it as a program presented to elementary school students, the Benedictine College new student orientation, and the ALICE active shooter training.
APD continued operations of a K-9 Unit; a 12-officer Special Response Team, a two –unit motorcycle patrol, as well as Honor and Color guards.
The vehicle fleet is comprised of 15 vehicles that include six for patrol; one for the K-9 Unit; one SRO vehicle; four unmarked vehicles; two motorcycles; and a truck that is shared with the city’s code enforcer. In 2019 there were a total of 226,593 miles driven.