Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

July 20, 2012

KPD juvenile referrals up in 2011

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — Since the Knoxville City Council is looking into adding a 14th officer to the Knoxville Police Department, which would be a school liaison officer, we decided to ask about calls to Knoxville Schools during the 2011-12 school year. 

As reported, the City of Knoxville was one of four agencies in Iowa to be awarded a COPS grant from the federal government. This federal grant will pay a portion of the costs of a full-time police officer for three years, if the City agrees to keep the officer on for a fourth at its own expense. 

The KPD is wrapping its search for a 13th officer, but this grant cannot be used for any of the current applicants for that position. After writing the grant, the KPD learned that the position for which the grant money will be used, must be filled by a veteran. This is a new condition that was not in place at the time of the original application. 

Police Chief Dan Losada has been discussing the possibility of resurrecting the school liaison program with Knoxville Schools' Superintendent Randy Flack. Both Flack and school board member Mike Helle have expressed their support of the program. The costs to the City and School District for the officer would be minimized by the grant. 

The number of calls for service answered to Knoxville Schools between Aug. 15, 2011, through May 15, 2012, numbered 211. That number may incomplete, as a report may not have been filed each time an officer stopped by a school building. The breakdown of where the officers responded is as follows: 

Knoxville HIgh School-103 calls

GOAL Alternative High School-8 calls

Knoxville Middle School-57 calls

Northstar Elementary-23 calls

West Elementary-20 calls

"It is likely that this is not a complete list," Losada wrote. "Incidents may have started at other locations and moved to a school or involved more than one school." 

The Records Management System classifies the calls listed above as the following. While crimes may have been reported at the school, they may not have occurred there. Losada said it is also common for an incident to be reported as one thing and turns out to be something else. 

Juvenile Matter-46 calls

Follow ups-27 calls

Return calls-19

Thefts-6 calls

Sexual Assaults-2 calls

Assaults-4 calls

Suicidal persons-one call

Missing persons-2 calls

Unknown-31 calls

Juvenile Court Services indicates that 148 juvenile referrals were made by the KPD in 2011. That figure is up from 115 in 2010. As of July 1, the KPD has made 33 referrals this year. 

Other police activity around the schools include traffic accidents, driving complaints, traffic stops, harassment, suspicious people and presentations. 

The Knoxville City Council has approved the hiring of a 14th officer, which would be the school liaison, funded by the grant, if the Knoxville School Board agrees to pay half of the costs the City would be required to pay. The Knoxville School Board is not scheduled to meet again until Aug. 13.