During his weekly chat session on May 31, Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King expressed his appreciation for celebrating Memorial Day, and touched on call numbers and why he believes there’s been a rise in petty crimes.

King stressed the importance of Memorial Day and what it symbolizes to him.

”I think a lot of what this weekend is about is forgotten at times, or pushed to the side,” said King. “During the Civil War in the 1800s, a mother went to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of her two sons who had been killed in the Civil War. They were fighting for the confederacy.”

The mother also put flowers on the graves of two Union soldiers, and someone asked her why she would put flowers on the graves of soldiers who may have killed her sons.

“She said, ‘Because both of those graves have mothers and/or wives north of here who are grieving harder than I am because they can’t come visit the grave,'” said King. “That was kind of the kickoff of Memorial Day. This incident is what sparked and started Memorial Day as we know it today.”

Officers had a total of 863 calls for the week: 141 traffic stops, 422 building checks, nine burglaries, 10 thefts, eight shoplifting calls, and seven motor vehicle crashes.

“One of those burglaries was a burglary from a motor vehicle that happened about 10 p.m., close to the end of shift change for out evening shift. So an evening shift officer and the night shift sergeant responded to the area and caught the person in the act," King said.

The officers gave chase and took the woman into custody a short time later.

“The property crimes continue to plague us, folks; I’m not going to try to hide it,” said King. “If you go back three years or five years, our numbers are about double what they were at that time.”

King said the prisons are full in the state, and non-violent offenders have been released.

“A lot of the people we deal with on a regular basis aren’t spending a significant time in jail. The threshold for a felony has gone up as far as the monetary value. Drug possession is a misdemeanor now, so we have people with substance abuse issues who are not spending lengthy time in county jail, or going to prison at all,” he said.

King and other officials are monitoring the data on where and which crimes are occurring throughout the city.

“So we can have a plan of attack as far as our patrol goes, but ultimately, these last couple of months, there really isn’t a pattern,” said King. “There’s not a certain area of Tahlequah that’s getting hit harder than others [and] it’s all over the place because the people who are doing it are roaming all over town.”

What’s next

King will go live on the TPD Facebook page on Monday, June 7 at noon.

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