LaGrange Police Chief: Report even minor crimes

Published 11:45 am Saturday, October 10, 2020

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Recently, I received an email from a citizen frustrated with a series of thefts and burglaries in their neighborhood and the seemingly lack of a police response. When I reviewed the reported crime in that area I found some of incidents had not been reported to the police department. I frequently am told by citizens that they “don’t want to bother us with small complaints” and I have to explain the importance of filing a crime report regardless of the type of crime. Crime reports allow us to quickly address public safety concerns and direct police department resources.

Several years ago we looked at an online reporting software option for minor crimes. At the time, I did not want to lose the personal contact aspect of a police officer’s response to a citizen’s call for service. However, it seems an increasing number of people would prefer to detail on social media information about minor crimes rather than call the police. We are re-evaluating that software and I will consider making it a choice for our citizens that want to report minor crimes and offenses but do not want a police response. This software will enable us to capture criminal activity that would not normally be reported to the police. The importance of filing a police report for any crime cannot be over emphasized!

At the police department, we deploy officers and resources and investigate criminal activity based on reported crime and citizen complaints. The nature, number, and type of crime dictates the response and the resources, including the type of technology we employ. We leverage technology in a significant way and, for example, have had cameras in various locations around the city since 1997. However, cameras are not helpful if there is not a report completed once a crime occurs.

Upon receiving an offense report we review camera recordings in the zone where the crime occurred; we also look for other reported crime in the area for comparable characteristics and temporal factors; review pawn reports and social media property sale sites; conduct a search for field interviews with potential suspects; and seek to identify persons on parole, probation, and those on bond for similar offenses who have been recently released from jail or prison. So far this year over 50% of all the arrests we have made for selected property and violent crime have been individuals on parole, probation, or bond. All of this information and investigative leads and resources direct our deployment of personnel, technology, and special details.

Presently, the police department is in the process of completing a comprehensive camera allocation study supported by the City Council and Mayor. I expect to have recommendations for camera sites by the end of the month, however, LaGrange has over 11,000 units of housing and thousands of businesses so it is impossible to cover every home or street. But, with effective citizen-police partnerships, augmented by technology, we can work together to create a safer LaGrange… so if you are a victim of crime, please report it to the police.

Louis M. Dekmar

Chief of Police

LaGrange Police Department