Mark Taylor
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More than 50 Edgerton residents attended a town hall meeting with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 27.
The sheriff’s office, which has contracted patrol services to Edgerton since 1996, discussed response times, arrest statistics and investigations in response to numerous citizen concerns about crime and police presence raised at a recent city council meeting.
Kent Brown, chief financial officer for the sheriff’s office, explained the contract the city has with the department.
He said one deputy patrols the city and surrounding district bounded by county lines on the west and south, 159th Street on the north, and Homestead Lane on the east.
Brown said the department’s total operating cost for patrolling the district is $451,824.
The city’s cost is based proportionately on the percentage of calls (55.7 percent) received within city limits.
The city’s 2011 contract cost is $251,642 plus overtime costs not to exceed $5,000.
Captain Shane Pennington said the contract calls for one patrol car in the Edgerton district with supplimental patrol cars when needed from adjacent districts.
Pennington said response times in Edgerton average 5:47 minutes for emergency calls and 7:55 minutes for non-emergency calls.
Deputies patroling Edgerton issued 142 citations in 2011, compared with 84 in 2010.
Drug arrests have increased to 11 in 2011, compared with seven in 2010.
Overall arrests have increased 25 percent. Forty were made in 2010 and 50 in 2011.
Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning said investigations can take weeks or months to generate an arrest, and investigators are not always at liberty to discuss their progress with citizens.
Releasing information prematurely can jepardize a case.
“Loose lips sink ships,” Denning said. “The fewer people who know, the better.”
However, the sheriff’s office welcomes tips, which can be communicated by phone or via the sheriff’s website.
Denning also said he is preparing for additional services as the intermodal comes online.
He said he has sent personnel to intermodal facilities throughout the country as a proactive measure.
Denning said his goal is for future growth go offset the costs of additional law enforcement.
Following the presentation, Denning took questions from the audience.
One resident expressed concern about the rotation of officers patrolling Edgerton.
The sheriff’s office no longer assigns deputies to Edgerton long-term and officers are reassigned about every two months.
“Officers already seem unapproachable,” the audience member said. “Isn’t it advantageous to have the same officer?”
Denning replied that there is “a lot of movement” among deputies due to promotions, and the Community Policing Program has been phased out for economic reasons.
Regardless, he said, he encourages officers to “roll down the window” and interact with citizens.
“We’re all supposed to be community policing officers,” Denning said.
The department also has a Professional Standards Unit that investigates reports of “rude” officers.
“We investigate all of them (complaints) and take the appropriate action,” Denning said.
Another resident asked about cufews in Edgerton.
Denning replied that curfews are established by cities, not law enforcement agencies, in emergency situations.
He added that curfews are difficult to enforce because they are almost always challenged in court.
“When it (curfew) gets challenged, it is uninforceable,” Denning said.
Mayor Don Roberts said the city plans to start posting sheriff’s reports on the city’s website once it is redesigned.
“We really have good statistics,” he said. “If you compare them to the metro area, we are in pretty good shape.”
Roberts also encouraged citizens to consider enrolling in the sheriff’s Citizen Academy.
The academy meets one evening per week for 12 weeks and offers an insight into sheriff’s department operations and law enforcement practices.
For more information, visit www.jocosheriff.org.
Denning and other sheriff’s officials encouraged the attendees to contact them at any time with questions or concerns regarding patrol services and crime.
“We work for you,”  Denning  said.  “It’s not the other way around.”