Hopewell police outline 2013 goals at city council meeting
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jan 11, 2013, 13:32
“People say, ‘you should really be happy with your numbers,” Chief John Keohane with the Hopewell Police Department, told City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting. “I am, somewhat, but there is still work to do.”
For the first time that Keohane can find on record, the number of total crimes in the city was under 1,000 for the year. The 2012 figure of 989 is down from 1,135 in 2011, 1,307 in 2010 and 1,090 in 2009. One of the figures that Keohane said he is most proud of is in the area of burglary.
Keohane said in previous years, burglaries were “off the hook.” For 2012, burglaries fell to 214 from 315 in 2011, 282 in 2010 and 277 in 2009.
“When you focus on some major players and get them off the street it makes a major impact on your numbers,” Keohane said.
But some of the arrests made in the area of burglary have not made Keohane happy. The day before the council meeting, the Red Barn convenience store on E. Randolph Rd. was robbed. The day of the council meeting, just such an arrest was made.
“We arrested someone for a robbery just today,” Keohane said. “Fourteen years of age. I’m not happy.”
While the numbers on paper were good, and show an overall drop in crime of 24.4 percent in a two year period, Keohane told council that he is not satisfied. Especially with the city’s two 2012 murders, that of Emil Crenshaw at the beginning of 2012 and that of Morris Flowers at the end of the year, remaining unsolved.
“We have good leads and we’re working hard on them,” Keohane said.
From 2010 to 2012, the number of shootings was halved, falling from 19 in 2010 to eight in 2012.
Keohane said that one of his most important goals for 2013 is to solve some of the cold cases that are still open.
“Bringing closure to the families,” Keohane said. “That’s huge to me. We are trying to solve cold cases this year, one case that dates back almost 20 years.”
In addition to driving down crime figures and working to get criminals off the streets in the city, Keohane said the police department’s accomplishments for the year including making history in the city.
In April, Keohane promoted six of the department’s officers, naming Rose Camacho as the city’s first female police Sergeant.
Keohane said he had no idea he had made history because the promotions were a long time coming and well deserved.
“They all worked hard and they all deserve this promotion,” Keohane said during the promotion ceremony in April.
Keohane, who told council he was big on setting goals, said that another number has also increased in the two years: the amount of grant money received by the department. This past year, the department received more than $432,000 in grants, up from $72,000 in 2011 and $69,000 in 2010.
“We have gotten almost five times as much in grant money,” Keohane said.
One of the largest grants of the year came from the Department of Justice COPS, or Community Oriented Policing Services, Hiring Program in the amount of $250,000. The Hopewell Police Department was one of 221 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to be awarded the grant. The grant will be funded over a three year period for two officers positions.
The police department is working on becoming Virginia Law Enforcement accredited, which will help it qualify for more grants. Out of 300 agencies in the state, only 87 are accredited. Keohane said Hopewell will be number 88.
The department had to re-write over 100 policies and write an additional 20 policies to receive the designation. The accreditation will be held in March of this year, following a mock accreditation in February.
Making the department more “self sufficient” is another goal Keohane has set for the year.
In 2012, the department trained 12 officers in Crisis Intervention techniques and put four officers through Gang Investigator Training. More than half of the department had customer service training and 100 percent of the department hand tactical firearms training.
Keohane is also working on engaging the community as much as possible, including through the computer screen. Last year, the Hopewell Police Department set up a Facebook page that has done more than connect the department with the community.
“We have solved two crimes off of Facebook,” Keohane said. “We have also dealt with four complaints off of Facebook. We use it to also let people know the good things going on with the police department.”
With the trainings, the grants, the upcoming accreditation, and social media usage, Keohane said he hopes to drive crime down even further in the coming years.
“I want to help reduce crime and improve the quality of life here in the city,” he told council.