Raytown police try new tactics in areas with high levels of crime and crashes

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RAYTOWN, Mo. -- The city of Raytown is trying something new. Police are honing in on two parts of town that have disproportionately high levels of both crime and car crashes. A new program will focus police patrols in those areas, in an effort to improve safety.

Loretta Mertz is enjoying a relaxing start to her holiday weekend with her neighbors.

"We're all ind of friends up here and we watch out for each other," said Mertz.

Mertz says having each other's back is a big deal, especially in the area of Raytown where she lives. Her street is right in the middle of a hot zone just identified by the city. The neighborhood off Raytown Road between 59th and 63rd streets, and the Hwy. 350 corridor between Hunter and Arlington, each have higher than average crime and traffic crash rates.

"There are people that just kind of walk around here at three and the morning and you're kind of like, 'Ooh..Not sure about this!'" Mertz said.

Mertz says she's seen it all from stolen cars to drug activity and excessive speeding leading to crashes.

"I think it would be awesome to have extra police force here," said Mertz.

Beefed up patrols are coming. Starting July 1, the Raytown Police Department is starting a new 'data driven approach to crime and traffic safety.' The concept is a lot simpler than it sounds.

"What we're trying to do is use police presence to both prevent crime as well as these crashes," said Detective Lucas Freeland with the Raytown Police Dept.

The hope is by using existing officers and focusing on the problem spots, good things will happen.

"If you see a police officer there, chances are you're not going to not be paying attention to the road or not going to commit an act of crime," said Det. Freeland.

The program is not concerned with how many tickets get written or the number of arrests made. The focus is on spending time in the communities of concern and building relationships.

Loretta Mertz is thrilled and hopes the effort gets results.

"That makes me feel more secure being here knowing there's going to be more police out there watching over us," Mertz said.

The program will run for three years, and police will be collecting information the whole time to see what works. They might also find some areas need changes, like sidewalks, lighting, or new road design to help lower crashes and crime.