Motorists who drive through Abilene often will likely see police cars cruising the streets. There is a reason for these police car sightings: Police Chief Mark Heimer has his officers out patrolling.
Community Projects Officer Kris Kobiskie said crime prevention has always been a priority of the Abilene Police Department but Heimer introduced a method of crime prevention that was new to the department: target-oriented policing, abbreviated as TOPS.
“If there’s a lot of vehicle burglaries in a certain area, especially in the overnight hours, they will let the patrol guys know to spend some extra time patrolling in those neighborhoods,” Kobiskie said. “Basically, to concentrate your resources to where the activity is being generated is the concept.”
Kobiskie said officers still patrol in other areas of town as well, but they spend more time in areas that have had numerous problems to prevent similar problems from reoccurring.
While TOPS is effective at preventing vehicle burglaries, a more common use of the method in a smaller community like Abilene is the prevention of traffic violations.
“We were having some traffic issues up around McDonald’s, so we concentrated efforts up there for a while and also on Charles Road,” Kobiskie said. “If someone says, ‘Hey, there are a lot of speeders or people running a stop sign at a certain location,’ that’ll be listed and put out to the patrol shifts as, ‘Hey, this is a TOPS location for the next however-long,’ and we’ll spend some extra time in the area doing (enforcement).”
Before taking the position of Abilene Police Chief, Heimer used TOPS in his work as a police captain in Kansas City, Mo., where the cultural canvas and population size are much different from Abilene.
“Every community has crimes that will occur,” Heimer said. “The big difference between a large inner-city type community and one that’s a bit smaller is the frequency of those things occurring. So, an armed robbery of a gas station can occur in any of those communities. It happens pretty frequently in the big cities and much less frequently here but we as law enforcement have to be prepared to handle any type of crime across the entire spectrum, from crimes against persons down to crimes against property.”
Heimer seems to have no concern about working himself out of a job. Rather, he sees his job as a mission to prevent crime.
“From our perspective, crime prevention is a very important element of what we do because our goal is to minimize the crime in our community,” Heimer. “If we can do that by preventing it completely and therefore saving people from becoming victimized, it’s a win-win situation.”