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Examiner
  • Crime, codes concern southwest Independence residents

  • Most of the citizen phone calls that Independence City Council Member Eileen Weir receives fall into two categories: crime prevention and code enforcement.

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  • Most of the citizen phone calls that Independence City Council Member Eileen Weir receives fall into two categories: crime prevention and code enforcement.
    Weir, who was elected to represent the southwestern portion of Independence nearly one year ago, centered her first District 4 neighborhood meeting on these two subjects Saturday at the Nativity of Mary Parish Hall. Weir said crime and codes are the two areas that most concern her constituents, and they also are areas where  reporting what they see holds more power than they might think.
    “There’s no way that we can ever have enough cops to put on every street corner,” Weir told about 30 citizens in attendance. “…They can’t be everywhere, and so, they really depend upon the community to assist them in telling them what the needs are.”
    While the proximity of District 4 to U.S. 40 opens the area up to potential for crime, Weir said, law enforcement officials told her in a recent meeting that police don’t receive many calls for service in the area. Instead, they told Weir, most of the calls in the area result from police patrolling the area.
    Still, Weir said, constituents tell her what they see in the community by way of crimes.
    “We need to report what we see,” she said. “…What I have been told repeatedly by the police chief and other members of the Independence Police Department is that you have to create an atmosphere of no-tolerance in your neighborhood, because criminals know when they are in a friendly environment, so to speak, and that word will spread.”
    Creating a safer neighborhood could be as simple as locking one’s front door when sitting outside on the back porch, Weir said. She also told residents to report soliciting to the Police Department’s non-emergency numbers and to look out for people who aren’t a regular part of the neighborhood.
    While Weir’s district hasn’t had an active neighborhood watch in years, she said her father-in-law, Bob Weir, recently offered to serve as the neighborhood watch block captain and that group is becoming active again.
    “You have to create that atmosphere of zero tolerance,” Weir said, “and the only way that that’s possible is to report what you see. I’ve heard dozens of times, ‘Well, I call the police, and they don’t do anything. I call, and nobody comes. I call, and nothing ever changes.’”
    “But, we just have to keep calling. They may not be there within five minutes on the scene, but the more we report what we see that we don’t like, the more they’re going to be aware that this is an area that they need to be paying attention to.”
    Weir offered several suggestions on contacting law enforcement. If someone is physically approached, he or she should call 911 and shouldn’t feel afraid to do so, Weir said. The Police Department will prioritize the call, she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Non-emergency reports can be made by calling 816-325-7300. That line is answered from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. If something happens in the middle of the night, citizens can call the South Patrol sergeant on duty at 816-564-3976.
    “The key is to make those reports and not to be hesitant to do that,” Weir said. “…Don’t be afraid that you’re crying wolf or you’re overreacting – let the police figure that out. Generally, I think for all of us our intuition is right, and if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.”
    Code compliance is another community concern, but people often are unsure of what is and isn’t a code violation. Citizens can report potential code compliance issues anonymously by calling 816-325-7193, as well as report violations online (www.indepmo.org) through the Action Center.
    While Weir said she “doesn’t love” the way code compliance is most often handled in Independence, through neighbors reporting on neighbors and by responding to complaints, she does like the neighborhood cleanup events like the one planned for April 6 at Santa Fe Park.
    Beginning next week, city staff will begin inspecting more than 300 addresses within the neighborhood cleanup area. Residents within that area will have the opportunity to dispose of unwanted trash and brush on April 6, and afterward, the city will revisit the properties and then move forward in notifying violators.
    “I like that approach much better because it feels more community-building to me and less tattle-telling or ratting out your neighbor,” Weir said.
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