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Officials: City remains ‘safe’ despite crimes

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm

City has been rocked by reports of stabbing, kidnapping

By Ethan Colbert

Crime happens everywhere, including in Bowling Green, but local city officials say that they feel the city remains a safe community for young families and older adults alike.
Recent police reports of drug use throughout the city, a stabbing on West Locust, a kidnapping on South Broadway and other crimes have had some citizens asking city officials if Bowling Green is becoming unsafe or a dangerous place to call home.
While hearing of these events can certainly be jarring, city officials say that they believe Bowling Green remains a safe city.
“I think Bowling Green is still a small enough community that nearly everybody still knows everybody,” Barb Allison said during an interview at City Hall on Monday. Allison is the city’s administrator and is a lifelong resident of the community. “I feel that anyone should be able to walk down the street without fear that something is going to happen to them. For the most part, I feel like Bowling Green is still a good little community that you can live in and feel safe in.”
City of Bowling Green Police Chief Don Nacke shared similar views.
“We have a lot of new people who have come to town, but we still have a lot of the older, longtime residents who have been here a long time,” Nacke said in an interview last week with the Bowling Green Times. “Honestly, I don’t think people should have any worries about walking down the street. There is nothing in Bowling Green to be afraid of.”
The city police chief cited the lack in violent crimes, such as home invasions, murders and burglaries as reasons for his confidence.
“If you actually look back to the 1980s, then I would say that crime today is less than what it was then,” Nacke said. “Back then, we had several murders that I remember. We had home invasions and burglaries. Fortunately, we have not seen those types of crimes recently and I hope that we never do. I mean, back then we had stabbings where men would have their throats slashed. Bowling Green has not seen that kind of violent crime here for a longtime.”
Allison said that she believed residents who were questioning the safety of the city were doing so out of increased awareness of crimes happening in other cities surrounding Bowling Green.
“As having lived here for all of my life basically, I don’t know that the crime level is worse,” Allison said. “I think that maybe we are just hearing more about crime now, and that is mostly because of social media. Now, we just hear about it more frequently whereas years ago, we wouldn’t have heard about it.”
The “it” that Allison was referring to was the perceived crime wave that originated in St. Louis and has spread into Wentzville and Troy.
To help prepare for the potential crime wave hitting the boundaries of Bowling Green, city officials say they routinely meet to discuss public safety concerns.
One of those concerns is the size of the city’s police department roster. However, city leaders say that the current police force is adequate for a city of Bowling Green’s size.
“We have at least two officers on duty 24-hours a day,” Nacke said. “Our guys are pretty fortunate to have two officers on duty, and that is what we are trying to maintain — two officers per shift.”
As the city continues to grow in population size, the municipal police department’s roster will likely also need to grow, according to Allison.
“I think the need for an additional police officer is going to be on the night shift,” Allison said. “Right now, though, Bowling Green is a city that for the most part goes to sleep at 11 or 12 o’clock at night. Then from midnight to six in the morning, I don’t think anyone spends too much time chasing down the bad guys. However, as we grow as a city, it is a concern for me that the police department needs to grow, too.”
The police chief said that when he meets with the Bowling Green R-I Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matt Frederickson later this month, he would be addressing the need for a school resource officer.
“I have always been trying to push for a school resource officer, but I just can’t fund it,” Nacke said. “I am going to continue to push for it, because I would love to see somebody in that building and the entire complex.”
According to Nacke, it would cost the city’s police department about $40,000 to hire a school resource officer for the Bowling Green campus.
Ultimately, Allison said that she hopes residents do feel safe in Bowling Green no matter the city’s size.
“I would like to see Bowling Green stay this quaint little town where everybody feels safe in it, because I feel safe here and I want others to feel the same,” Allison said.