Mesquite, TX – February 1, 2021 – In Mesquite, burglaries and incidents of breaking and entering were down 52% in Dec. 2020 as compared to Dec. 2019, as was shoplifting by 26% and thefts of vehicles by 21%. These monthly results were announced in addition to the Mesquite Police Department’s quarterly report presented to the City Council on Feb. 1 that showed a 9% decrease in total crimes from 2020 to 2019. The report uses the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), endorsed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and utilized by more than 15,000 agencies nationally, including nearly 600 in Texas.
City Manager Cliff Keheley said, “We are doing better in many areas. Our police department has expanded their efforts in a lot of different ways to address criminal activity in our community. But, we will continue to find ways to do better.” Keheley referenced the fact that thefts of possessions from vehicles were up 26% in Dec. 2020 when compared to Dec. 2019. He shared that a major factor in that crime trend is that 47% of this type of crime occurs when the vehicle is left unlocked. The monthly results noted that Mesquite police issued nearly 1,400 traffic citations with more than 650 of those for speeding in Dec. 2020. And, thefts from buildings was down 39% in Dec. 2020 as compared to the same time in 2019.
The City’s recent crime initiatives have included several steps towards improving public safety. In March 2020, the City Council approved revisions to the convenience store ordinance to set security equipment and late night operations standards as well as requiring every store to register those improvements with the City. The Police, Building Inspection and Code Enforcement have teamed up to ensure full compliance at 69 locations and have issued 14 citations for non-compliance of the new requirements. Keheley said, “Our efforts to harden these targets of crime is working. There were no robberies in Dec. 2020 at any of the convenience stores covered by the ordinance as compared to four the previous month.”
Police Chief Charles Cato acknowledged the diligent dedication of his officers with many programs they have undertaken as a large part of the reason some crimes have trended down. He said, “We have created programs to reduce activity where crimes have a tendency to occur, we have improved the visibility of our patrol officers in specific beat locations and we have expanded the ways we engage our citizens on social media.”
The S.A.F.E. (Secure Apartments for Everyone) program has seen great partnerships between the police department and 23 apartment communities to address criminal activity and situations of disorder with tenants and their guests. In Dec. 2020, police officers made 16 arrests from apartment communities that are in the SAFE program. The 13M Patrol program has directed officers to specific locations within their beats to be visible for 13 minute increments. During that time, officers talk with neighbors, play with kids out in the neighborhood or simply complete reports in their patrol car. In Nov. and Dec. of 2020, there were more than 300 patrol shifts strategically placed within neighborhoods. Chief Cato explained, “Community policing is about connecting with the people we serve to exceed their expectations, and people partnering in their own public safety are essential to that effort.”
In Dec. 2020, the Deployment Unit program recovered three stolen vehicles, issued 34 citations and made four felony arrests. They also assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration with the stop of a narcotics courier which yielded confiscation of more than 20 pounds of methamphetamine off Mesquite streets. Chief Cato said, “We have been tremendously effective with our deployment unit to address certain types of crimes and get the right resources in the area, at the right time.”
Despite the current health pandemic, the police department has made significant progress with its Citizen Engagement program. Working with their 63 registered crime watch groups and using social media, the department has generated a constant flow of updates. Through more than 125 posts on five different social media platforms in Dec. 2020, the department has sustained awareness of important steps residents can take to avoid becoming a victim to the crime of opportunity. These have included “20-4-7” to be active in your own neighborhood, “Take. Lock. Hide.” to encourage the public to secure their vehicles from theft and the “9 P.M. Routine” to suggest nightly habits homeowners can take in securing their residence.
Mayor Bruce Archer concluded, “While I am extremely proud of the hard work and results of our police officers and our growing number of citizens who are more engaged in reporting crimes and watching out for their neighborhoods, we still have much work to do to send a message that criminal behavior is not welcome in Mesquite. We will not let up in this effort!”