Vigilant police work generates more arrests

When Pratt Police Chief Gary Myers told city commissioners he was going to have his officers step up their traffic and drug enforcement efforts during 2012, he figured it would cause a drop in crime in the city.

What he got instead were statistics that indicated crime had gone up in several areas. As his officers got more aggressive, they began to generate more arrests and cases.

As he compiled his department statistics for 2012, he found his department had generated 1,872 cases, a ten-year high for reported crimes. The 2012 caseload was up from the 1,721 cases in 2011.

Overall in 2012, the Law Enforcement Center received over 13,900 calls for administrative action and 911 services.

Myers isn't sure why some types of crime rose sharply in 2012 compared to 2011. He said it maybe due to the increased efforts of his officers. They could be finding more crimes than they realized were happening.

Just on New Year's Eve alone, officers worked 10 arrests. It was so busy the dispatch officers had to prioritize calls.

The work load has increased so much that Myers may have to go to the city commissioners and request more officers to handle the work load, Myers said.

Another possible reason for the rise in crime is the influx of new people in the Pratt area during the day.

The increase in activity in the oil and gas industry and wind energy plus several construction projects has brought more people to Pratt. With more people come more possibilities for crimes.

But Myers was quick to point out that he didn't have specific statistics on who was committing the crimes so it was hard to pinpoint just who was committing the crimes.

What he did know was the number of cases has gone up.

"I do know the case load has increased and continues to increase. My officers are very busy," Myers said.

Looking at the numbers the areas showing the biggest increases from 2011 to 2012 were: assault and battery 63 to 69, care and treatment 6 to 23, child in need of care 30 to 35, counterfeiting cases 10 to 21, domestic violence 59 to 76, drug violations 79 to 95, forgery 8 to 10, larceny theft 193 to 242, liquor violations 18 to 30, sex offenses 6 to 18, trespassing 21 to 33, person crimes 37 to 56, property crimes 32 to 73 and non-classified 73 to 88.

In each case, no clear pattern presented itself so other than the more vigilant police work it is hard to say why the numbers have gone up.

Besides getting the criminal activity stopped, all this police work has resulted in more revenue in municipal court. In 2012, fine and cost generated revenues were $197,800, an increase of $18,600 over 2011 court revenues.

The department will continue to closely monitor those involved in illegal drug activities and Myers warns them about their fate.

"There's a good chance we know who you are. You are being watched and it's just a matter of time before you are arrested," Myers said.