PITTSBURG — The second week of my journey through the Pittsburg Police Department’s 10th Annual Citizen’s Academy opened with PPD Crime Analyst Jordon Garrison.
Many folks may be picturing a lab from a TV show like CSI or someone like Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds. While Garrison will tell you his job isn’t quite that glamorous, it is still extremely important in helping PPD solve and prevent crimes.
PPD officers and dispatchers gather a large amount of raw information during their daily operations. They fill out reports, write tickets and field lots of calls. Garrison takes that information, and learns from it. He looks for correlation between calls and reports to identify trends in crime, crime hotspots and more.
He creates analysis reports for command staff, officers, the city commission and the public, including PPD’s yearly crime report.
Aside from all these duties, Garrison said an important part of his job is networking with other agencies, from the Pittsburg State University Police to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and even departments across county and state lines.
“Our suspects don’t always stay in Pittsburg,” Garrison said. “They travel county to county, state to state.”
By sharing reports with other counties and states, suspects can be more easily tracked down and apprehended.
Garrison started his career in law enforcement as a dispatcher for the Frontenac Police Department in 2008, before working as a patrolman in Frontenac. He then went on to work as an intelligence analyst for the Kansas Bureau of Investigations and a Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy before coming to PPD.
His position is paid for through a public safety sales tax approved by Pittsburg voters. Sgt. Detective Rebekah Lynch said the position has been a great asset to the department.
“Jordon has changed how we do policing here in a very positive way,” she said.
From crime analysis we moved to Lt. Tim Tompkins, who discussed community policing and domestic violence.
We got a ever-so-small taste of what police deal with in domestic violence cases through a video of woman being hit at a gas station, and the audio from a dispatch call where a young child pleads for his parents to stop fighting.
“That’s why it’s hard to be a police officer,” Tompkins said, slightly choked up.
Tompkins is versed in the history of policing and is extremely passionate about what his work and educating both officers and the public, especially when it comes to domestic violence.
“Some people say domestic violence is a family issue and police have no business being involved with it,” Tompkins said. “Not on my watch.”
Tompkins went on to teach us about laws pertaining to domestic violence, how abusers gain control and how trauma affects victims, as well as the fact that most cases never see the inside of a courtroom.
“In my three decades of police work I’ve testified in one domestic violence case,” he said. “But I’ve made hundreds of domestic violence arrests.”
One in four women and one in seven men are victims of severe physical violence from an intimate partner. And 324,000 women experience partner violence while pregnant each year.
On average, more than three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day in the United States, and domestic violence is the leading cause of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 44. One in five female high school students report being physically abused by a partner.
In 2015, 22,712 domestic violence incidents were reported to Kansas law enforcement agencies, and 11,559 arrests were made.
PPD had over 750 incidents of domestic violence reported in 2016. That’s an average of two incidents per day, not including the county sheriff’s department or PSU police.
“Everyone talks about their heroes, like Tom Brady or LeBron James,” Tompkins said. “My hero is a survivor. Anyone who got out.”
Tompkins holds an administrative position at PPD, and takes opportunities to teach about domestic violence any chance he can get. He helps educate officers, and students as an adjunct instructor at PSU.
He also talked to us about the history and development of organized police forces, and the importance of community policing. Community policing is about connecting with the community, and working together to prevent crime and find solutions to problems.
“It’s about going into the community, finding the real problem and working with the right people to solve it,” he said.
Tompkins is a large proponent of the idea that unless police know why crime happens, they won’t be able to stop it. He said it takes community policing to do that.
“I can arrest all the drug dealers I can find,” he said. “But unless we work to fix addiction that causes drug crimes, it won’t stop. We have to look at the real problems and work together toward solutions.”
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.