Chief Connally

St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally said the department has seen a wide range of success with their overnight helicopter operations. The helicopter helps make the strategy safer for officers, bystanders and suspects. 

St. Joseph Police Department, along with Missouri State Highway Patrol air unit and Buchanan County Drug Strike Force had another overnight helicopter operation to target crime and fleeing vehicles in St. Joseph on Thursday night.

The agencies have held these joint operations in the past year as they’ve noticed certain crime trends increase.

St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally said the mission was another success with 50 car stops, seven checked subjects, 51 citations and 22 verbal warnings.

There were 13 arrests, with four city charges, one state DWI, four state warrants and three city warrants. The 13 investigative charges involved resisting arrest, drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm.

“Every vehicle that fled with the assistance of the air unit, we were able to apprehend the suspect,” Connally said.

Connally said there are a few options police can use when pursuing vehicles, but the helicopter is the safest and most effective.

“It’s important that we don’t put innocent people in jeopardy and that’s why we use the helicopter unit in these operations,” Connally said.

The department has been using other strategies over the year to target crime, which has helped lower overall part one crime by 12%.

Connally said they’re constantly looking at trends and explains that it’s never all bad, but it’s not always all good.

“The part one crimes are what we call index crimes, which are more serious, and what people generally use to compare crimes,” Connally said.

Index crime such as robbery is down 12%, burglary is down 21% and aggravated assault has fallen by 26%.

“When you look at year to day, that’s an overall trend of 11 months and that doesn’t account for spikes that may have occurred last week, this week or next week and it’s important to keep that in perspective,” Connally said.

However, Connally also explained that there are areas that aren’t always encouraging, such as auto theft being up by 8% from last year.

“That’s one of those trends that we follow very carefully and in the first half of the year, we were actually down from the year before and then we saw large spikes in the summer and now are starting to taper down,” Connally said.

Another area that’s increased is simple assault by 4%, but it’s not a part of the part one crime category.

“We try to look at all these trends as soon as they develop and address them as quickly as we can through various things,” Connally said.

The department has multiple surveillance and predictive analysis tactics in place to continue targeting these crimes. Connally said they’re going to move forward with more helicopter operations in the future due to the success they’ve had.

Bailey Ketcham can be reached


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