Independence police form new street crime unit to address rise in crime

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence police officers see their fair share of crime. 

From 2016 to 2017, police saw more than a 7 percent increase in violent crime, as well as a 4 percent increase in property crimes.

As a result of that increase, the police department decided to form a new street crime unit, or "SCU."

"It's a direct correlation with the quality of life. Those property crimes, that issue with a party house or street-level drug activity that doesn't make the headlines in the papers," said Maj. Jason Cato, a division commander with Independence police. "But if you are the folks that have to live there every day, that's probably the most important issue you will be in contact with police."

The new unit will consist of a sergeant and seven detectives who will patrol the streets of Independence in unmarked cars.

"They are going to have the freedom every day to go after targeted issues, locations, whatever the target list is for the time," Cato said.

Poppy's Famous Donuts and Bakery has been a staple in the city for more than 30 years. The owner said she sees crime in and around her neighborhood.

"I think it's kind of heavy here in Independence, where we are. We have a lot of drug houses around here," Poppy's owner Gloria Tichenor said.

She hopes her area will get some attention from the new SCU. 

"Well, it can't hurt anything. If anything it will help everything. I'm all for it," Tichenor said.

The task force will go into effect next week. Detectives will also target repeat offenders, community-related problems and neighborhoods with a high rate of crime.

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