"We haven't had anything unusual except for the murder-suicide on June 14, which is very unusual," said Police Chief Tim Schweder.
Nonetheless, Monett continues to have instances of major crimes. The number of murders, forcible rapes and robberies in 2009 equal the totals recorded for 2008. Only one or two of these major crimes tend to occur in Monett in a year, according to police totals.
Arson is one category of crime that has increased this year. Six cases have been reported, compared to one last year and four each in 2006 and 2007.
One of the arson cases involved an uninhabited mobile home. Five others involved structures. Schweder said the state fire marshal heads up local arson investigations with assistance from local officers. A trained arson investigator himself, the chief said arson is like homicide probes where the cause must be determined.
Arson cases are difficult to pursue unless the right evidence is found, the chief observed. Last year only two of the four arson cases were considered resolved. None of this year's instances are classified as cleared to date.
Most of the crime in Monett is property related, Schweder said. The number of stealing cases up to mid-October had tallied 195, a little ahead of last year's pace when the 2008 total was 243.
Officers have logged 56 cases of burglary through mid-October, close to the rate of 79 in 2008.
"Unfortunately it's very difficult to solve burglaries," Schweder said. "Many offenders who commit multiple burglaries are not caught. When one multiple offender gets arrested, the number of incidents go way down until another person starts."
There have been 10 motor vehicle thefts so far this year compared to 15 in all of 2009. Schweder said officers tend to recover almost all of the stolen vehicles reported.
One type of crime that has received particular attention this year has been domestic violence. Last year Monett recorded 33 cases, the smallest number of the 11 cities Schweder tracks for comparison.
"Either we have extremely nice people in Monett or something is amiss," Schweder said.
At the chief's request, Lieutenant Greg Brandsma examined the reported cases. Brandsma concluded officers may not have been identifying all the instances that should have been classified as domestic violence.
This year officers have gone to a domestic violence class at Missouri Southern State University and taken another look at state statutes on the offense. Consequently, the number of domestic violence cases in 2009 have numbered 37.
Scheweder suspected the year-end numbers would be almost double that mostly because officers were taking greater care in recognizing what should be called domestic violence. The number of aggravated assaults tallied this year have risen to 18 from four last year, an increase Scheweder also attributed to taking a closer look at domestic violence cases.
Due to Brandsma's review, several recommendations were made. The policies and procedures manual has been updated. A refresher inservice training class on domestic violence was held in July. Squad cars have now each been supplied with a video camera for recording evidence. Statistics have been reviewed and monitored regularly.
The department is making an ongoing effort to update training. Work is also starting on updating city ordinances on stalking and harassment. If revisions are deemed necessary after consulting with the city attorney, Schweder said the changes will go to the Monett City Council for action.
In many cases, the chief said, city ordinances mirror state statutes so that the offenses can be prosecuted in municipal court. More serious cases go to the county level.
Officers recently had their annual training session with tasers and a class on use of the collapsible baton. Monett officers will also join police across the state in taking additional training to conduct the standard field sobriety test.
Crime in Monett remains generally low compared to surrounding communities, Schweder said. He is pleased with the efforts his department has been making and hoped the low numbers would continue.