Violent crime has not come to Arnold in a major way, but it is increasing in larger cities across the United States, including homicides. Arnold has a violent crime rate that statistically is 73% lower than Missouri’s average and 64% lower than the national average. To maintain this excellent rate, the Arnold Police Department is expanding training for its 49 officers and increasing firearms practice for every officer while boosting patrols in residential and retail areas.
According to Police Chief Robert Shockey, Jr., a 29-year veteran of the Department, “We do not anticipate a major boost in violent crime in Arnold in 2017, but the Arnold Police Department is working hard to minimize any criminal activity – from assault and robbery, to theft at homes and businesses, to illegal narcotics activity, school lockdown situations, and potential terrorist acts. Crime is constantly changing, and our Department is changing to help keep crime under control, no matter what the incident.”
This was clearly indicated on November 4, 2016 when two Arnold Police Officers were ambushed by an Arnold resident who shot and wounded both officers in the face and upper body with a 12-gauge shotgun. The shooter was quickly apprehended and charged with eight felony counts. Officers Jason Gorenstein and John Palme both later recovered.
According to Chief Shockey, “That incident was a terrible reminder that police work can be a deadly job. We’ve had no incidents like that since 1976 when one of our officers was shot and killed while investigating a forced break-in.”
“Our Police Department is becoming more proactive and less reactive. Our public safety priorities are resident safety, safety in schools, crimes against businesses, and potential terrorist acts,” he asserts. Thus the Department is making procedural modifications in several areas.
First, in January the Department implemented a new patrol schedule by enhancing its current 12-hour shifts. Some patrol shifts now overlap to address what Chief Shockey calls “prime time for crime – 10 am to about 2 am.”
In addition, the Department’s Business Resource Program, in which patrol officers visit retail businesses to consult with managers, in-house security officials, loss prevention employees and to talk with customers, has been expanded from two to four armed police officers. “Our data shows that crime at retail locations in Arnold and in other cities has been on the increase – ranging from ‘smash and grab’ of small items, theft of larger items, and in-store shoplifting,” says Chief Shockey. “Interstate highway access to the City of Arnold via nearby exits and on-ramps contributes to retail-related crime because it gives lawbreakers who live outside our city easy-on easy-off ways to reach stores and then try to quickly escape,” he says. “We expect that doubling the size of our Business Resource program and expanding surveillance will reduce this type of criminal activity in 2017 and beyond.”
In late 2016 two new highly-trained police dogs joined the Department’s award-winning K-9 Unit to replace two older dogs. They apprehend fleeing criminals, sniff out illegal drugs, detect hidden explosives, track lost children, and find senior citizens who’ve wandered away from home. “Instead of risking officer safety in some situations, we can turn the dogs on criminals – once they see a canine running after them, nine times out of ten the criminal gives up on the spot,” says Lieutenant Brian Carroll, K-9 Unit Supervisor.
Enhanced Response Training
Traditionally, Arnold police officers have participated in daytime and nighttime firearm training and target practice sessions four times a year to refresh their shooting skills.
In 2017, the Arnold Police Department is introducing what Chief Shockey describes as “more realistic training” specifically designed to address crisis situations at schools, theaters, retail stores, businesses, and terrorist events. “Our police officers will be introduced to a new type of proactive armed response training for these potential scenarios, and related safety precautions, which reflect what many police departments are dealing with in America today,” Chief Shockey says.
“In Arnold we do not have the high levels of violent crime, armed robberies, and homicides like they do in St. Louis and Chicago. It’s our job to make sure that those trends don’t take hold here. In 2016, we experienced a few – very few – homicides in our city. They were domestic-related crimes and were solved quickly by our Department,” Chief Shockey continues. “Those few incidents were not gang or narcotics related homicides.”
Because Arnold also is home to a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) facility, which captures and delivers geospatial intelligence to policymakers, military operations, intelligence professionals and first responders, the Department is aware of the potential threat of terrorist acts due to the Agency’s presence in the City.
“NGA has its own internal police department and we have worked with them,” Chief Shockey says. “After the September 11 World Trade Center disaster we developed an anti-terrorism plan – I can’t reveal any details except that we update our anti-terrorism plans every two years, and that our officers are well-trained. We live in a very different world today than when I entered law enforcement,” says Chief Shockey, who is a Past President of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
“Fighting crime is a never-ending battle for law enforcement agencies, so small cities like Arnold need to be just as vigilant as larger cities with our policies, procedures, methods, and equipment updates. For example, Arnold police officers have been equipped with body cameras for three years. These video cameras help our officers stay out of trouble. If we receive a complaint from a suspect who has been arrested, 99 percent of the time the video will prove that our officers were in the right.”
“We do sometimes make mistakes. But we quickly address them and learn from them – that’s part of becoming a better Police Department.”
Jeff Dunlap is a writer in St. Louis who can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org