nd so this is Christmas. I hope you have fun.
In order to allow our staff to enjoy both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their families, and in order to get the weekly newspaper in the hands of most readers before Christmas Day, we’ve cranked out a slightly smaller than normal Landmark for you on Monday as opposed to our normal Wednesday printing date.
Merry Christmas to all our Landmark readers and friends. Thank you for inviting our work into your home throughout the year.
Listen, I love all you folks but no more Christmas treats for The Landmark office. No more pies. No more boxes of fancy chocolates.
I’ve put on eight pounds in the past two weeks and the holidays aren’t even here yet. We do appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness but my belt is feeling the pain.
It appears thieves are getting their Christmas shoplifting done.
The six stolen vehicles from the Dodge dealer in Platte City, as detailed on our front page in last week’s issue, may be the work of an organized group that targets car dealerships.
Platte City has had three or four burglaries that appear to be connected to that group, police say.
The work of thieves taking items from garages, outbuildings, vehicles, etc. in northern Platte County in an area around Interurban Road appears to be the work of a group from KC, let’s generally say the southeast metro, authorities with the Platte County Sheriff’s Department told me recently. Major Erik Holland said local authorities are pretty sure they have targeted the right suspects, and when we last spoke he said the next step would be to get arrest warrants and search warrants if needed.
With a lot of publicity and buzz about alleged racist activity at the Platte County R-3 School District, some other public entities are taking an introspective look and holding conversations to see if there are any signs of similar concerns within their own ranks.
For instance, the topic of being alert for any sign of bias in traffic stops by area law enforcement agencies. The Platte City Police Department’s ratio in the important category of “disparity index” was a topic at a recent public safety subcommittee meeting.
The verdict? The latest available numbers show no signs of racial concerns with the Platte City Police Department.
The perfect disparity index number is 1.00. Platte City Police Department’s number is 1.61 for stops of African-American drivers. While city leaders would always like to see the figure closer to 1.00, it should be noted that in the Kansas City Metro area only Plattsburg had a better ratio than Platte City.
DJ Gehrt said the ratio is a matter the city takes seriously. “It is important,” he emphasized.
Police officers in the state must report specific information, including a driver’s race, for each vehicle stop. Law enforcement agencies must provide their vehicle stops data for the calendar year by March 1 of the next calendar year.
The disparity index relates each racial/ethnic group’s proportion of total traffic stops to its proportion of the driving age (16 and above). A value of 1.00 indicates that a group’s proportion of vehicle stops equals its population proportion: it is neither “under-represented” nor “over-represented.” Values above one indicate over-representation in traffic stops, meaning a higher proportion of vehicle stops for the ethnic group’s population proportion. Values below 1.00 indicate under-representation in traffic stops, meaning a lower proportion of vehicle stops for the ethnic group’s population proportion.
Officials stress it is an imperfect benchmark, since obviously a person does not need to live in an area to drive through it. “This dynamic can lead to the racial/ethnic makeup of drivers on a jurisdiction’s roadways differing from that of its residential population,” says DJ Gehrt, city administrator for Platte City.
While the 1.61 number for Platte City police in regard to stops of African-American drivers for the city’s population is not the perfect 1.0, there are some outside factors that may contribute.
“Platte City serves as the home of the Platte County R-3 School District and the county seat for Platte County, which significantly affects the demographics of drivers (traveling through) the city,” Gehrt points out. For instance, while only five percent of drivers age 16 and over living in Platte City are African-American, that number is 10 percent within the R-3 school district.
With that knowledge in mind, “further consideration of Platte City’s traffic stops in 2018 when compared to the Platte County R-3 School District demographics do not indicate a significant over-representation of traffic stops of African-American drivers,” Gehrt said.
So overall, it’s a very satisfactory report for the Platte City Police Department.“It’s important and a good practice to review these metrics regularly. It is equally important to continuously review police reports and traffic data to evaluate potential bias,” Gehrt remarked.
Last week the Platte County Sales Tax Structure Advisory Committee met for the fifth time and adjourned with what sounded a plan to start getting jiggy with it when it next meets on Jan. 13. Committee member Aaron Schmidt pushed for the pace to pick up a little bit, asking for the parks department and all the law enforcement departments’ (sheriff, prosecutor, courts) long financial needs to be summarized on one sheet so the process of figuring out what level of sales tax would be required to meet projected needs.
Committee member attendance, having struggled at 60% recently, was at 80% last week.
If the county commission’s intention was to get a sales tax question(s) on the April ballot, it’s getting late in the game. The deadline for an entity to place an issue on the April ballot is Jan. 28.
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