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Florence police struggle with large number of crimes

Staff writer

Florence Police Chief Michael Stone says the small town police department has been inundated with crimes this summer.

Florence police are currently investigating 61 open cases, a substantial number for the two-man police force.

“They’re actual cases,” Stone said, “anything from vandalism to battery. With summer months, everybody is out having a good time, not just good people.”

Stone said the majority of the department’s caseload has been cases of personal crimes.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 30 thefts, mostly at the unmanned Ampride gas pumps along U.S. 50.

There have been nine cases of battery.

Stone is alarmed by the number of drunk drivers in Florence since the beginning of the year. Stone has arrested four drivers on suspicion of driving under the influence.

While that does not seem like a ghastly figure, Stone said four DUIs in a town of 465 people is a big issue.

“We don’t have a lot of traffic in the late night hours,” Stone said. “We’re seeing DUIs come in between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.”

Stone and officer Danny Hurst have been involved in six car chases that have passed through Florence since the beginning of the year.

The department’s case closure rate is 86 percent, with confessions in most instances, Stone said.

With that rate of success, the two-man squad has been working more hours to complete paper work and process cases.

“Even with a full-time officer we’re still struggling,” Stone said.

Especially with Hurst who was training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson earlier this year, Florence has used Marion police and Marion County sheriff deputies to help with patrols.

“Those guys are top-drawer,” Stone said of Marion police. “I know the other agencies are busy.”

Even though they have been busy, Stone urges residents to report any crime they witness. He cited reckless driving as an example.

“Living in a small town, not a lot of people say anything; it’s small town business,” Stone said. “We can’t see all the crimes. We can’t be out 24-7.”

Last modified July 20, 2011

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