Five members of St. Joseph’s City Council were present at a work session on Thursday that discussed crime rates, prescription drug monitoring and more.
Chief Chris Connally of the St. Joseph Police Department gave a brief presentation on crime in the city to the council after they had requested an update at an earlier meeting.
According to Connally, shooting calls have increased by more than 50 percent over last year, and shots-fired calls have decreased overall by about 6 percent.
At this point last year, there had been 79 shooting calls, which include incidents in which a person or property was shot. This year, that number is up to 119.
Shots-fired calls, which are reported when a caller believes they heard a gunshot and are not always confirmable, are down from 737 last year to 691 this year.
The number of stolen vehicles has increased and was at its peak in the summer.
Since August of this year, 58 vehicles have been stolen in St. Joseph, the majority of which were cars.
Most of the vehicles stolen were taken from residences and 14 were taken from businesses. Of all the vehicles stolen, 26 were taken by a friend, acquaintance, ex-lover or child, and two of the vehicles were left running when they were taken.
Connally said it is important to not just view the statistics as numbers and to be sensitive to the victims of any crime. He said trends show that crimes are starting to drop closer to their normal levels.
“There’s some areas that we’re doing better than others in but, we’re hoping that we continue to keep this trend down,” Connally said. “Any victim is too many victims.”
Connally said there are special programs the department is using to help combat certain crimes.
“There are some categories of crime that have normalized some, there are significant challenges that we are still addressing,” Connally said.
Council Member Donna Jean Boyer, who was leading the meeting in the absence of Mayor Bill Falkner and Deputy Mayor Pat Jones, commended Connally on his presentation.
“This report proves what a professional police department we have,” Boyer said.
St. Joseph Health Department Director Debra Bradley asked the council to consider signing an agreement with St. Louis County to take part in a prescription drug monitoring program.
Bradley said the program would allow pharmacists to keep an up-to-date digital log that tracks what prescriptions are being picked up by customers in an effort to stop drug abuse.
It would cost the city less than $3,000 a year to participate.
JulieMarie Nickelson, a local pharmacist who works at Rogers Pharmacy, is in favor of the program.
She said it would act less as a way to punish drug abusers or “doctor shoppers,” and more as a way to treat those with addiction issues.
“They’re still patients; they’re still people and if I can help them rather than just smack them on the wrist, if I can try and help them to get the assistance they need to get better, I would rather do that,” Nickelson said.
The information collected from the program would only be available to doctors and pharmacists, except in the case where a court order is used by law enforcement.
The council members present were in favor of getting the item on a regular meeting agenda.
A summit on opioid use will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 a.m. at Missouri Western State University’s Fulkerson Center.
The council also saw a presentation from Friends of the Animal Shelter, who are hoping to purchase a new building that will be renovated and made into a new shelter.
The group is hoping for $1 million from the next CIP. The council had some questions about the proposed location at Mitchell Woods and directed City Manager Bruce Woody to collect information before they make a decision.
An overview of Missouri Western State University’s strategic plan for the upcoming fiscal year also was given to the council.