Hannibal Police defend increased traffic patrols
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By Melissa Shriver
Thursday, September 04, 2008 at 5:03 p.m.

Last month, we told you about concerns from some Hannibal viewers who say the police department is spending too much time on traffic patrols and not enough in the city's problem areas.
But Hannibal Police say that's not so...and traffic patrols are an essential part of preventing violence in the first place.
KHQA held your public officials accountable by asking the questions you want to know.
Is this about issuing tickets?
Captain James Hark with the Hannibal Police Department said, "Absolutely not. The whole idea behind traffic enforcement in a community is to ensure and safeguard the public."
Hark says traffic stops are keeping Hannibal residents safe. He says in one out of 2 traffic stops, Hannibal police discover drivers are up to other illegal activities. Some are wanted on outstanding warrants locally or are the run from other states. Others have suspended drivers' licenses or are driving intoxicated. Many others are transporting marijuana and other drugs.
I rode along with one Hannibal Police officer Thursday. Believe it or not...within ten minutes this officer found a man running from the law on an outstanding warrant and stopped this driver who ran a stop sign and nearly clipped the police car we were riding in.
If this isn't about tickets, why are you increasing patrols?
Hark said, "We are responding to a community survey. There was a good 95 percent who requested additional police presence in traffic enforcement and increased patrols of neighborhoods."
Hark says police presence in neighborhoods, no matter the reason for it, is a good deterent of crime in neighborhoods.
Hark said, "Officers in neighborhoods enforcing traffic offenses running speed checks and watching for license violations also deter people who may be thinking of engaging in a crime in a neighborhood. They see an officer, they're less likely to carry through with those acts."
Hark says one of the examples of the this is here in the Chestnut, Gordan and Lamb street Neighborhoods. Hark says several years ago there were many calls of violence and drug activity here.
One example of that violence was back in 2003 when a man fired shots at a Hannibal policeman. He was later arrested by the police Special response team in this home.
Hark says after patrols were increased, crime has gone down.
Hark says another fact is not everyone is getting tickets during traffic stops. In fact he says 60 percent of all traffic stops result in warnings.
Hannibal residents always have a chance to weigh in on the police department's priorities coming up this winter. That's when the department will send out an annual community survey, which will be mailed out along with residents' Board of Public works electric bill.