By Randy Pierce
New Baden Chief of Police Scott Meinhardt has been encouraging pro-active law enforcement in the community with the intent of making the presence of the police more known not only to those who may therefore be discouraged from wrongdoing but also to those who obey the law and require protection from those who do not
Meinhardt explained this is his very comprehensive report submitted to the members of New Baden Village Board of Trustees at their meeting held on Monday evening, June 4, of this week.
He mentioned in conjunction with the pro-active concept that during the month of May alone there have been over 100 traffic stops by New Baden Police with 20-plus citations being issued and two arrests of individuals wanted on outstanding warrants.
A ratio of one citation per every five stops is good, Meinhardt continued, but, in reality, this can be lower in cases where multiple tickets are issued to the same driver.
With the activity rate being higher than usual so far for this time of year, Meinhardt noted, it is significant to point out that in a period of only three weeks, three vehicles were stolen in New Baden with two found in town and the other recovered in south St. Louis. It is not certain if there is any connection among these crimes.
The village normally averages less than one stolen vehicle report annually, Meinhardt pointed out, so for this many to have occurred in such a short time “peaked our interest.” Information is still pending from the state crime lab concerning the evidence that was processed by local police and the Illinois State Police at the crime scene of two of the three stolen vehicle incidents.
Of the many other items addressed by Meinhardt in his report, he explained that he had attended a meeting with the chief and assistant chief from the Mascoutah Police Department concerning the fact that their municipality, by virtue of its state-authorized home rule powers, is moving forward in the direction of implementing a crime-free housing ordinance, something that had been addressed in New Baden a few years ago but did not go anywhere because the locals defeated a referendum that would have approved home rule authority needed to enact such regulations.
Those type of laws place stricter requirements on local rental tenants with the basis being to discourage crime originating from those individuals living in those properties. Mascoutah’s taking on this idea originates, Meinhardt explained in his report, and results from that city getting an influx of “undesirable tenants” relocating from larger crime-free regulated towns like Belleville because of the more stringent rental dwelling related mandates there.
“If Mascoutah is successful in implementing its program,” Meinhardt stated in his report, “we are the next to fall. Because Mascoutah is already a home rule community, they are numerous steps closer than most.”
Meinhardt suggested that New Baden may want to take a look at its options concerning this topic. The police are currently very willing to do background checks on any potential rental tenants but the number of local landlords who actually utilize this service is “dismally small,” he noted. The police department even has a pre-printed listing of web sites that landlords can research to gather background information on individual prospective renters if they wish to do so.
Other matters touched upon by Meinhardt in his report included the staffing of the department including the pending hiring of another officer following an extensive screening process involving Police Sergeant Jeff Mavrogeorge, Village Administrator Mike Hemmer and Meinhardt himself. The candidate selected will be presented to the village board for final approval at its July 2 meeting, the chief said, if all goes as planned.
He further mentioned something that was discussed at a meeting of the village board’s public safety committee meeting last week – the status of the department’s K-9 program and issues related to the current animal used in it.
The K-9 program is utilized at no cost to local taxpayers, Meinhardt added, because the funding for it comes from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education “Safekids” not for profit group. It appears that, because of the issues with the current canine, the program may be put on hold for awhile with it being anticipated that any efforts to reimplement it will be brought before the village board for consideration.
Other topics addressed by Meinhardt in his report include vehicles, training, the recently approved in-car camera grant, the building and office facilities used by the department, policy updates, the purchase of ballistic vests, upcoming June Jamboree and chain of command plus some additional items.