The newly formed Crime Resolution Unit of the Sedalia Police Department conducted its first operation over the last two weekends, resulting in a dozen arrests and nearly 200 incidents. 

Sedalia Police Chief Matthew Wirt introduced Problem-Oriented Policing as a focus area when he became chief in 2018. Problem-Oriented Policing focuses on the problems that are concerns for the public and community by taking a proactive approach to them. 

“When I talk about Problem-Oriented Policing I talk about how we can work on problems in neighborhoods that come up. The CRU is directed towards that,” he explained. “So as opposed to answering calls for service on the patrol level, they are actually going out and working on specific problems…We’re going to do more of this.”

The CRU was formed in 2019. Over the last two weekends, the CRU performed its first special operation in Sedalia. The unit initiated 199 different incidents, checked 31 identified abandoned or under construction residences and buildings for trespassers or burglars, and traffic stops related to these areas.

The CRU consisted of eight officers operating as a coordinated unit to increase the law enforcement presence in areas identified as high crime areas. According to Wirt, the unit will not be taking away from the department’s normal efforts but is an addition to them. 

“Normal patrol is still doing their normal operations and when they have opportunities they still do the same types of things. It’s not trying to replace that or that they stopped doing that, it’s just in addition to our patrol...” he said. 

“They’re officers that are not assigned to the shift. Each year council grants us a special operations fund so we are able to fund these projects that are on their days off and things like that. So they are assigned outside of the normal patrol operation or whatever their normal assignment is.”

The CRU’s mission was to identify individuals moving through high crime areas and work to catch individuals in the act of getting into cars, trespassing on properties, stealing, or burglarizing homes. All abandoned buildings and residences that had raised concern for neighborhoods were checked, cleared, and referrals were sent to the Community Development Department.

“So in this particular one, we have had problems with burglaries. We have had problems with abandoned buildings, whether that’s houses or businesses, with people breaking into those possibly doing more damage to them so we were checking those,” Wirt said. “We were also looking for trespassing, burglary, theft from those areas. We’re going on target specific problems and specific areas.”

Wirt emphasized the importance of the community working together to address these issues. Several of the arrests made were the direct result of police presence in areas identified through citizen complaints or from properties identified by Code Enforcement. They used information given by these parties to map out areas where the unit would focus its efforts. 

“When we have community involvement with it, there might be things within a neighborhood that the neighborhood itself can do to help us; calling the police when they see something suspicious. It could be just trimming up their bushes so that their backyard can be seen better, just, in general, there’s lots of things that we can do together as law enforcement and the community to help solve problems,” Wirt said. 

“In this specific crew, we worked with Community Development and Code Enforcement to try and determine the areas that had the most problems with these houses and crime. So Code Enforcement is taking care of the code issues while we are taking care of the crime that surrounds those issues.”

Wirt said he believes the crew’s first operation was successful, saying the goal was not necessarily to make arrests but to be preventative. Wirt hopes to expand the unit in the years ahead. 

“Our ultimate goal, as staffing improves, is to have a dedicated shift to this,” he said. “It will be shorter than the normal shifts, but it will be a shift that does a wide variety of things…To handle problems that could be anything from traffic enforcement to extra patrol, to dealing with whatever problems are in a specific neighborhood or in a specific area of Sedalia.

“It’s a really broad scope of what problems we might deal with…It’s more about the problem than anything else. What is the scope of the problem and how we can resolve that.”

According to a news release, the following arrests were made:

Joshua R. Gilmore, 37, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of West Broadway Boulevard and South Warren Avenue and arrested pending charges of driving while suspended.

Danny L. Hayworth, 45, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of East Broadway Boulevard and South Marshall Avenue. After initially giving a false name, he was identified and found to have had an active 2017, no bond probation and parole warrant. He was arrested and taken to the Pettis County Jail pending charges of driving while suspended, possession of methamphetamine, identity theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to register a motor vehicle, and no insurance.

Donald R. Knox Jr., 27, of Sedalia, was arrested after a short foot pursuit in the area of West Broadway Boulevard and South Vermont Avenue. He was taken to the Pettis County Jail pending charges of peace disturbance, resisting arrest by flight, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Zachary T. Fisher, 24, of Sedalia, was arrested on an active warrant for possession of amphetamine in the 2700 block of Wabash Drive. He was taken to the Pettis County Jail pending charges for possession of marijuana.

Tyler N. Rusk, 26, of Sedalia, was arrested in the 1600 block of West Ninth Street and taken to the Pettis County Jail pending charges of unlawful use of a weapon, second-degree assault, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts of possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of armed criminal action.

Barry Simmons, 30, of Sedalia, was stopped in the 500 block of South Grand Avenue and arrested pending charges of driving while revoked.

Samuel A. Bartlett, 35, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of East Fifth Street and South Thompson Avenue. He was arrested pending charges of unlawful possession of an illegal weapon.

Jessica K. Wissman, 34, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of East Fifth Street and South Thompson Avenue and arrested pending charges of possession of a controlled substance 

and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Dexter Cramer, 24, of Sedalia, was arrested in the 700 block of 11th Street pending charges of second-degree domestic assault and tampering with a victim in felony prosecution.

Deandre K. Williams, 27, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of South Osage Avenue and West 12th Street after a short bicycle and foot chase. He was taken into custody and was found to have an active 2018, no bond probation and parole warrant. He also had four other warrants with a bond totaling more than $25,000. Charges are being requested for resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.

Anna M. Kroenke, 51, of Sedalia, was stopped in the area of West 15th Street and Kentucky Avenue pending charges of possession of a controlled substance.

Michael R. Fritchey, 36, was stopped in the 700 block of West 16th Street and arrested for a Benton County warrant from the original charge of possession of amphetamine.

One person listed through the state computer database as a missing person was located in good health in the 600 block of North Grand Avenue.

City Reporter

Emily Walton is the city reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering local government and various city departments.

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