Not quite 3-years ago when I arrived in Parsons, our town was a different place. But, change and evolution is not something that you can stop, even if we'd like those 'good old days' that exist only in our memories.
Policing in Parsons and throughout our region has gotten more challenging and more dangerous over my tenure as Chief of Police. That has meant that developing partnerships and policing smarter has become critical.
For our part, you see some of the best partnerships in policing happening locally. The Labette County Sheriff's Office, Parsons PD, and County Attorney's Office as well as the Juvenile Department and our federal partners (US Marshal's Office, Drug Enforcement Administration) along with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation share information, partner in programming, and investigations and are tied together through our Kansas - Combined Anti-Drug Taskforce (K-CAT).
Sounds like simple common sense doesn't it?
That cooperation is not always alive in all areas of the country. The idea that a Sheriff's Deputy and a city police officer would share 'common ground' as we do in Parsons is the exception and not the rule across the country. Sure personalities, politics - those things impact the criminal justice system just like they do in life in general. Fortunately, that has not been the case in recent years here in Parsons and in Labette County. Labette County Sheriff Darren Eichinger and County Attorney Stephen Jones have been instrumental in working with, listening to, and developing new partnerships that reach throughout SE Kansas to enhance the criminal justice system.
I have had a unique policing career covering four-decades, I've worked in all three of the west coast states as well as in metropolitan and rural venues that have also includes airport, seaport, and railroad operations. I jumped into University policing as a Chief for 6 more years in Louisiana. Needless to say, I've been exposed to all levels of the criminal justice system. Here in Labette County, today - we have some of the best inter-agency relationships, information sharing, and investigative successes ever seen in Labette County. Regardless of big cities or rural venues - things are working, even with strained budgets, in our County. Sheriff Eichinger and County Attorney Jones are not one's to self-promote, but they are the lynch pins in our areas many successes.
A recent drug interdiction effort that resulted in multiple arrests included a team of Parsons PD, Labette Sheriffs, KBI Agents and Chanute PD K-9 Teams. We are collaborating on training and technology with our other partner police agencies of Independence (Chief Jerry Harrison), Coffeyville (Chief Kwin Bromley) and Pittsburg (Chief Brent Narges) and we want to grow those relationships even more. Without this cross jurisdictional support and teamwork, well things are just more dangerous.
Locally our Department has increased transparency with a new web site that provides a massive amount of information about policing, crime data, prevention tips, podcasts and so much more. You can sign up to receive alerts by text or email. Please visit us at www.parsonspd.com . The COVID-19 Pandemic had us rely more upon social media platforms such as Twitter and www.NextDoor.com . The results have been overwhelmingly successful.
Citizens can't sit on the sideline. Thirty-five years ago, a national campaign was birthed that introduced McGruff the Crime Dog as an American icon that is "taking a bite out of crime."
In the early 1970s, most people thought it was strictly up to law enforcement to prevent crime. However, a group of concerned private citizens and government leaders believed that working individually and collectively, in tandem with the police, could aid in crime prevention.
Since his debut, McGruff has been instrumental in showing adults and youth alike how their involvement can reduce crime. Today more than three out of four Americans believe they can personally do something to prevent crimes from occurring. While crime in general has been reduced from the highs seen in the 1990s, it remains a reality in communities across the nation every day, including Parsons. To this end, it is clear that even with a more diverse, older, technology savvy nation, McGruff the Crime Dog still has a job to do.
In the past quarter-century, McGruff has become more than just a familiar face. He is a true piece of Americana. We can all "Take A Bite Out of Crime." For more information about the National Crime Prevention Coalition, visit www.ncpc.org. Locally, we have seen a huge increase in citizen participation by adopting our motor of 'See It! Hear It! Report It! Check out the crime prevention and information resources available on-line at the Parsons Police Department's web site at; www.parsonspd.com