Thursday, August 22, 2019

Stopping career criminals who threaten deportation to keep victims silent

Recently, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s interaction with immigrants has come into question. Below is a great example of how KCPD handles crime issues, including those involving immigrant victims. We want to reassure the public that immigrant victims get the same standard of service that anyone else in Kansas City would receive.

We are working to stop a pattern of armed robberies in which the suspects told the victims – mostly older Latino males – not to report the crimes to police because they said officers would call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have them deported. Not only is that patently false, but the victims’ fear allowed the perpetrators to continue to victimize more and more people. This pattern of crimes started with four or five armed robberies in 2018 and resumed in May of this year, with another four to five cases linked so far.

Police arrested one of the three primary suspects Aug. 20, and he was charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. We anticipate arrests and charges on the other two soon.

As I have said before, KCPD does not enforce immigration laws and never inquires about a victim’s or witness’s documentation. It’s irrelevant to our duty. We would not have known about these crimes were it not for the relationship one of our social service workers built with Hope City, a house of prayer and community center at 24th and Quincy. Crime had escalated around the center earlier this year, so the East Patrol social service worker and a captain began going to Hope City every morning to see what they could do and introduce themselves to staff and volunteers. The initially chilly reception from clients changed when they found out KCPD was there to help. The social service worker helped one woman get a prosthetic leg, giving her the ability to walk again. She got another woman with cancer into medical treatment. She worked with another man to get his identification documentation, and that allowed him to get a job. Crime issues surrounding the area have dropped significantly since KCPD intervention.

The clients talked among themselves, however, about how they had been robbed at gunpoint by three men while they waited in line at Hope City to receive a free meal. The suspects shot one of the victims in the leg last week. But the victims of the prior robberies did not go to police because the suspects had convinced them they would be deported if they did so. That is what made these crimes so heinous to me: not only did the suspects threaten the lives of people to take their meager possessions; they took away the victims’ chance for justice and protection. The suspects knew this would allow them to continue to prey on the immigrant community. The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will not tolerate those actions.

Fortunately, one of the staff members at Hope City told our social service worker what he’d heard about these crimes from clients. That gave police the chance to investigate these cases and stop the suspects who were hurting so many vulnerable individuals. We don’t care where you’re from or how you got here because it is our duty to protect and serve EVERYONE in Kansas City. The Spanish-speaking captain of the Robbery Unit has reached out to many victims to encourage them to participate in the investigation.

These crimes and the fear they incited of KCPD among immigrants started occurring long before the viral video of KCPD responding to ICE’s request for assistance during an arrest. Since that video, we have spent a great deal of time out in communities assuring residents that nothing has changed with KCPD’s approach to immigration. We do not ask about it and have no intention to start.

In addition to our many community meetings, some of our Spanish-speaking officers will soon be going onto local Spanish-language radio stations to explain KCPD’s policy and practice regarding immigration. A community that does not trust police is vulnerable to violent crime. What happened to the victims of the armed robbers at 24th and Quincy is the worst-case scenario of that. We don’t ever want that to happen again. 


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org


Thursday, August 8, 2019

How does public policy affect public safety?

As we look for solutions to the stubborn violent crime problem in Kansas City, members of our department are trying several innovative approaches. Here are just some of the new things we’re working on to address violent crime:
  • The Crime Gun Intelligence Center launched last fall. It’s a partnership with the ATF to forensically link guns to crimes to suspects. We have acquired new technology and staff at our Crime Lab to assist with this effort, thanks to grant funding.
  • Risk Terrain Modeling looks at environmental factors that can lead to violent crime (e.g. liquor stores, bus stops, vacant buildings) so police and the city can proactively address any issues to make the environment less desirable to criminals.
  • We have worked with our partners and the U.S. Department of Justice to refocus the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) to individuals instead of groups. This will put the emphasis on prolific violent offenders and has been successful in other major cities.
  • On June 21, the reward money available for anonymous information leading to the arrest of a Kansas City, Missouri, homicide suspect through Greater Kansas City Stoppers went up to $25,000. Two tipsters have now earned that reward. The first person got paid Aug. 7.
  • We do extensive work with youth on conflict resolution and mentorship through initiatives like Youth Police Academy, Teens in Transition, Youth Police Initiative, Police Athletic League, School Resource Officers trained in conflict resolution, and the upcoming revamp of the Police Explorers program.
  • We have implemented social service workers at every patrol division station to address needs that residents might otherwise try to meet through criminal activity.
KCPD is doing much to tackle violent crime, yet the violent crime issue persists. In the wake of numerous acts of violence in our city and nationwide, there is something else that must be considered that is beyond the scope of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department: We must ask whether public policy can make a difference in public safety?

First, consider this 2018 list from USA Today of the 25 most dangerous cities in the U.S., based on violent crime data law enforcement agencies submit to the FBI. Springfield, Mo., is ranked No. 12; Kansas City, Mo., is ranked No. 5; and St. Louis, Mo., is ranked No. 1. Out of all 50 states, Missouri has three cities ranked in the top 12. What does that say about the policies of our state?

If you want to hunt an animal in Missouri, you must attend a hunter’s safety education course and obtain a license. All of that is required to use a gun around wild animals, but recent state legislation has removed any requirements on carrying or using a gun around people. Now anyone 19 or older can legally carry a concealed weapon with no training in Missouri. Doesn’t it make sense for those who want to carry guns around people to do so with proper training?

The common refrain that usually accompanies calls for any kind of gun regulation is, “They want to take our guns away.” The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has no interest whatsoever in taking guns away that are legally possessed by residents. The law that applies to carrying a firearm for hunting – training and permitting requirements – is the same kind of law that should be used for possessing firearms, period. Law enforcement officers in Missouri currently have limited tools to prevent violence from occurring by taking guns out of the hands of those who want to harm others.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, a total of 1,346 people in Kansas City, Mo., have been murdered, the vast majority by firearms. That is a horrific loss of life in one decade. Imagine if we had a single incident with that many people killed at once in Kansas City. What would the reactions be? Would there be calls for some kind of immediate policy change so that could never happen again?

Public policy can provide law enforcement with more tools to combat violent crime, such as an effective corrections system, stricter laws, and grants/funding for more officers and equipment. Regardless of the gun laws, of which there are currently many, they are ineffective without a certainty of punishment. Certainty of punishment is more important than severity in the prevention of gun violence.

As I outlined at the beginning of this blog, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department are doing everything in our power to curb violent crime. But those in the halls of the legislature can affect public safety – for good or bad – at a much broader level. Something has to change. We hope the frustration our community is feeling about violent crime will turn into the action that is needed to change public policy to protect the people of Kansas City. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

KCPD thrust into national debate from ICE arrest viral video

There has been much discussion and debate surrounding the July 22 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stop that was filmed and shared on Facebook Live. I think it’s important to say upfront that the Kansas City Missouri Police Department does not do proactive immigration enforcement. That’s not our role. We do, however, respond to calls of people who need us all day, every day.
The call that came in from ICE agents asking for help on July 22 was entered into our dispatch system just like any call from the public, and officers responded as they would to any other call. We regularly assist outside agencies working in our city who ask for back-up, from sheriff’s deputies to federal agents. We don’t get to decide what calls we respond to. We just go. That’s our duty.

It is not our duty or prerogative to enforce immigration laws. Our policy clearly states, “Only immigration officers have the authority to detain and arrest suspected undocumented/unauthorized foreign nationals for violations of the immigration laws.” We are compelled by Missouri Statute 67.307, however, to “cooperate with state and federal agencies and officials on matters pertaining to enforcement of state and federal laws governing immigration.”

In the July 22 incident, several KCPD officers responded to ICE’s request for assistance regarding a man they were attempting to arrest who would not exit his vehicle. We would assist any local, state, or federal law enforcement agency who faced the same situation and had jurisdiction in our city. Responding KCPD personnel made many attempts to de-escalate the situation. You can see in the video the very respectful way the primary sergeant at the scene spoke with the man in the car and with his family after the arrest. His calming presence is part of the reason that KCPD officers respond to assist outside agencies. Our officers know their communities. They know their problems and fears. We believe the presence of KCPD personnel was a stabilizing factor in this incident.

In any high-profile incident like this, it’s important that we reach out to the members of our community and engage in discussion. As we have done before, I directed all of our Community Interaction Officers and patrol commanders to reach out to the residents with whom they work, especially our close community partners that work with immigrant communities. We want to ensure they know that KCPD did not initiate the stop in question, did not physically remove the individual from the car, nor did we take the man into our custody. We also want to assure them nothing has changed: it is not our policy or practice to conduct proactive immigration enforcement. It is our job to protect the life and property of everyone in Kansas City. Our community is safer when everyone – no matter how they got here – trusts their local police department. It would be detrimental to all of us if this incident incites fear of KCPD. Our officers are working harder than ever now to build that trust. This will come through community meetings, difficult conversations, and professional service.

We know this incident puts us in the middle of a national debate, but our job is to focus on how KCPD personnel can best serve the people of Kansas City. We will continue to review this and similar situations to ensure the process of continuous improvement to the service we provide. Other commanders and I have examined the video, just as we do with all incidents that merit a review. We continue to take the lessons learned from incidents such as this to assess our practices and policies going forward.

Meanwhile, we will continue to do what we’ve always done: respond to the calls of those who need help, no matter who they are. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, July 22, 2019

$25,000 reward greatly increases homicide tips

I am grateful to announce that two Kansas City, Missouri, homicides have been solved in the last month thanks to anonymous tips that carry a reward of $25,000 each. Both of those tips came in after the June 21 press conference announcing the $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in homicides that occurred in Kansas City, Missouri.

For many, $25,000 is life-changing money. We also hope it will change the lives of families who are grieving with no sense of justice over who killed their loved ones. The trend is certainly looking good. According to numbers from Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers, since the press conference announcing the reward increase, there have been 58 tips submitted on Kansas City, Missouri, homicides. Compare that to the month prior (May 20 – June 20, 2019), when there were only 23 KCMO homicide tips. That’s an increase of more than 150% month over month.

The reward increase is not just benefiting KCMO, but the whole metropolitan area. Citywide, homicide tips (including those from KCMO) went from 39 to 87, a 123% month-over-month increase.

Our hope is that the $25,000 reward will create so much fear of being turned in that those who might consider bringing a firearm along to solve a dispute or rob someone will think otherwise. Already, the numbers are showing that people are a lot more willing to share what they know for $25K.

We are working with our many partners to fund a robust, multi-media campaign to ensure everyone knows what “good money” it is. The campaign will especially focus on areas of Kansas City, Mo., most impacted by violence. It will be working on the street-level to ensure every single person affected by violent crime knows about the $25,000 reward.

Working with the community, we can bring justice for those already impacted by homicide and prevent future killings.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Major changes underway to fight against violent gun crimes in Kansas City


It’s no stretch to say violent crime in Kansas City, particularly gun crime, is far too high. Reducing that has been my top priority as Chief, and it’s a top priority for just about everyone else in law enforcement here and our partners in the local and federal government. More than anyone else, I also know it’s a top priority for our community.

I wanted to outline some of the changes we’ve made – along with our partners – to work with the community to prevent and solve violent crime.

Reward increase for homicide tips

One of the things I’m most excited about is the increase in the anonymous reward amount for successful homicide tips from $10,000 to $25,000 through Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers. This increase will be accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign to ensure everyone knows about it, especially in the areas where the most violent crime occurs. The City of Kansas City is making a substantial investment in this effort.

An amount like $25,000 can be life-changing for some, and our hope is that it will lead to justice for the families of murder victims. Beyond that, we believe it will have a deterrent effect. Maybe bringing a gun to settle an argument isn’t such a good idea with an incentive of $25,000 motivating those with information to come forward.

The population of Omaha, Neb., is only slightly smaller than Kansas City’s. Omaha has been offering a $25,000 reward for successful homicide tips for some time. Their city had only 20 homicides last year. Kansas City had 138. Reward money may not be the only factor, but it does appear to impact violent crime in Omaha.

We have proof more reward money leads to more tips. The reward for successful anonymous tips for Kansas City, Mo., homicides increased from $2,000 to $5,000 in November 2017, and then went up to $10,000 in April 2018. Crime Stoppers saw a 26% increase in homicide tips in the year those changes occurred. And though the increased reward was only applicable to KCMO homicides, the tips for homicide cases went up across the board for the whole metro area. Those increased tips meant more than double the average amount of homicides cleared through anonymous tips in the greater Kansas City area.

Changing the focus of Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA)

After extensive evaluation, KC NoVA switched its enforcement strategy in May from targeting group-related violence to targeting individuals who are frequently involved in violent, gun-related crimes. This approach has seen great success in cities like Tampa, which has had a dramatic reduction in violent crime. Although the number of these violent offenders is low, they are responsible for the vast amount of our violent crime. Research from Tampa identified that 6% of violent offenders were responsible for 60% of violent crime.

As a reminder, KC NoVA is a partnership between KCPD, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, The Jackson County Prosecutor, FBI, ATF, the Mayor’s Office and Missouri Probation and Parole.  NoVA accomplished its initial goal of reducing group-related violence. Since NoVA went into full effect in 2014, group-related homicides have dropped from 64% of all of our homicides to 37% of homicides. But homicides continue to be an issue in Kansas City, so we needed to adapt. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Safety Partnership spent 18 months with us evaluating NoVA and advising us on how we could move forward. The result is this new enforcement strategy that targets the trigger-pullers.

The social services component of KC NoVA will continue to help individuals find better futures that don’t involve crime or violence.

Stolen guns hurt everyone

We don’t just want to solve crimes after they happen. We want to prevent them from taking place. The Kansas City Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working with Crime Stoppers and the City of Kansas City to offer  a reward of $500 to $1,000 for information regarding stolen guns and straw purchasers (guns purchased on behalf of someone who cannot legally possess a firearm, usually a felon).  

Guns are finding their way into crime through straw purchase, theft from vehicles, residential burglaries and thefts from gun shops. The ATF and the United States Attorney’s Office have an excellent record of bringing to justice those who break into area guns stores; however, those guns – like any stolen guns – hit the streets very quickly. We need the public’s help to find those guns, get them off of the streets BEFORE they can be used in crime, and hold those responsible for putting these guns on the streets, accountable. 

We believe the $500 to $1,000 reward for information leading to stolen guns, straw purchasers, and others using firearms illegally will help achieve those goals.

Crime Gun Intelligence Center

Since last fall, the Crime Gun Intelligence Center has been working to analyze all gun crimes in Kansas City and link them forensically. The Center is a task force composed of KCPD detectives, officers from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department and ATF agents all working in the same location. Just three years ago, it took nine to 12 months to get forensic analysis back on some gun crimes. Thanks to a federal grant that led to the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, this now happens in 24 to 48 hours.

The forensic linking is a tool to guide detectives in a direction. Detectives still have to put the pieces together. Firearms change hands quickly, especially after a gun crime occurs, but we have better tools than ever now to link guns to crimes, which leads us to linking people to crimes.


Community Outreach

As I have previously mentioned, we added social workers at each of our six patrol division stations and doubled the number of Community Interaction Officers at each station. The intent of this was to address a lot of issues before they escalated into violence. The social workers link people to resources who might otherwise turn to crime to meet their needs. They are particularly focused on youth issues.

Community Interaction Officers address long-term neighborhood issues. They also work to strengthen communities through block watch programs, crime prevention through environmental design and building relationships with the police department. Empowered, connected, organized neighborhoods are the greatest crime deterrent our city has.

Because ultimately, we can have all the rewards and programs in the world, but little will change without the community’s involvement. You are the best crime-fighting resource we have, and we are honored to protect and serve alongside you.    


Our city is tired of the senseless violence that has altered so many lives. Today, this police department and our many partners are sending a clear message that the illegal and senseless use of firearms must stop. As a city, we can do better and we must. Our message to our great city is that everyone has an opportunity to reduce violence. If you know violence is about to happen, speak out. If you know someone who has been involved in violent acts, speak out. We do not have to accept violence!


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Defacement of National Word War l Memorial and other buildings will not be tolerated


Shortly before 1 a.m. last night, June 18, two men defaced one of Kansas City’s greatest treasures. On the north side of the National World War I Memorial and Museum, suspects spray-painted sentiments about a 1986 conflict in Peru and a communist symbol. They painted large red X’s of the faces of the World War I generals. A passerby saw them and called police. The driver yelled at them, and they ran off.

This is just the latest in what we believe to be three other vandalism incidents perpetrated by the same people. It is also the most destructive. We believe the same people also have defaced a church, a bridge and a vacant building in different parts of the city last night, too.

This is America, and everyone is entitled to their political beliefs. You can protest about them, you can write a blog like me or you can petition for change. What you cannot do is harm others or property in the expression of those beliefs. Nothing is gained from graffiti on a church.

To desecrate the National World War I Memorial and Museum is both illegal and stupid. It insults the tens of thousands of men who gave their lives so that we might continue to have the right to express our political beliefs. Who knows what kind of oppressive government we might be living under had those men not given their lives?

We, as a police department, will not tolerate the desecration of one of the most beloved landmarks in Kansas City, and we know the community won’t either. We are canvassing the area for possible video evidence and encourage anyone with information to contact the TIPS Hotline online or call 816-474-TIPS (8477).

We have some solid leads and continue to investigate.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Proactive work with at-risk teens yields positive results

Most of what the public sees our officers doing is reactive: showing up after something bad already has happened. There is a lot of proactive work going on behind the scenes, however, and one of those initiatives starts today. Today is the first day of this summer’s Teens in Transition program, a partnership that aims to put at-risk youth on track for a positive future.

Teens in Transition is a partnership between the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, Kansas City No Violence Alliance and local artists. It started in the summer of 2014. KCPD officers who work as School Resource Officers (SROs) in Kansas City Public Schools and school staff in the Hickman Mills School District help select students ages 14 to 17 who they think could benefit from the program. Many of these students have had negative contact with police, but not all of them. They are teens who are on the fence about which direction their life is going to go.

We meet with them and their families to outline the expectations of the program. They fill out an application. The first three days are an evaluation period to determine whether the teens are a good fit. Police, program directors and teens will work together this week to create a student agreement of behavior. Teens are urged to be careful about whom they should associate with over the summer and are told negative contact with police could result in being asked to leave the program.

So what happens at Teens in Transition? The teens meet three days weekly from now until Aug. 9. During that time, they hear from a variety of guest speakers – the Jackson County Prosecutor, the Mayor, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Kansas City Division, me and many others. They learn about conflict resolution and skills for employment. They get a free meal and a snack. And they work collaboratively on an art project. They get paid above minimum wage for their work, too. And on their paydays, they learn about financial literacy. The Mayor’s Office funds the program.

In years past, the teens’ artwork has been auctioned off. One piece hangs in the lobby of our East Patrol Division. Last year, they created murals to be featured in scenery in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s production of “West Side Story.” Those murals will travel to other productions of the musical in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and New York City.

Throughout the program, the teens are shepherded by KCPD School Resource Officers. The SROs are there with the teens every day, providing guidance and mentorship and breaking down misconceptions the teens might have had about law enforcement. It’s interesting to see the change throughout the program. The teens are usually very standoffish in the beginning, but at the end, they and the SROs seem like old friends.

Teens in Transition will take place in two locations this year: at Arts Tech downtown and at Hope Hangout across from Ruskin High School. Forty students are slated to start at Arts Tech, and 25 at Hope Hangout.

In the past four years of the program, 210 teens started it, and 73% completed it. Of those who completed the program, two-thirds have since had no negative contact with police. We view that as a huge win and an indication that proactive programs like this work. KC NoVA social workers also stay in touch with the teens after the program, and the SROs see them and keep up with them when they go back to school.

You may just see us responding to 911 calls, but rest assured that there is a lot of proactive work going on behind the scenes. Through police and teens building relationships, a new generation is trusting and more apt to work with police. This makes Kansas City’s future safer and brighter for everyone.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Police internet exchange zones offer designated spots for online buyers and sellers


Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo, – all offer a convenient way to buy and sell items with people nearby at a bargain. Sadly, it can also be an easy way for criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. We’ve seen many cases of this, and that’s what prompted us to designate all of our patrol division parking lots as internet exchange zones.

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve had 19 robberies originating from online sales. They’ve been increasing in frequency, with six so far in May. Just this past Saturday, a victim agreed to meet someone through the LetGo app at a church parking lot in the 5500 block of Wayne to buy an iPhone 8s Plus. Two suspects got into the victims’ vehicle. They began to discuss price, but then one of them pulled a gun, threatened the victim, and took his money. Investigation is ongoing.

Last week, we put signage in each of our six patrol division station public parking lots designating them internet exchange zones during daylight hours. (You can find the patrol division nearest you on the front page of kcpd.org.) We wanted to provide a designated place with plenty of police presence for the public to conduct these transactions. Hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people are making these exchanges across Kansas City every day. Our mission statement is to protect and serve with professionalism, honor and integrity. We believe providing these safe internet exchange zones both protects residents and serves a growing demand for secure internet transaction spaces.

It also provides a great deterrent. If a buyer or seller is unwilling to meet you at a police station for the transaction, you should be very wary. Don’t sacrifice your safety for convenience or a lower price. Speaking of price, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. No legitimate seller is offering the latest iPhone for $150. This is a common tactic used to lure victims to a robbery, and they will often use the price as an excuse for victims to meet them in a questionable location.

Buyers and sellers should keep all their communication about the transaction in the app they’re using and not give out their personal phone numbers. Users also should use the app to look at the profile of the buyer/seller: is it new? Verified? Avoid sites that offer total anonymity and no safeguards.

We also encourage people not to use cash for in-person transactions. If possible, use reputable apps to transfer money online. Carrying cash is a liability and could set you up to be the victim of a crime.

Hopefully, all these safety tips won’t even be needed if you’re meeting in one of our internet exchange zones. The idea is that they will attract only legitimate buyers and sellers. We’re also hoping that just proposing one of our police stations as a meeting place will put off anyone who had nefarious plans.

Even if you don’t choose our sites, choose some place safe. Don’t drive to places you’re unfamiliar with to make the exchange. Meet near the entrance or inside of a very public place or business with surveillance cameras and lots of foot traffic.

We can’t be everywhere to ensure safe transactions, but we’re hoping that by providing designated exchange areas, buyers and sellers can conduct business with fewer worries.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, May 13, 2019

Resources are needed to address police mental health

The Kansas City Missouri Police detective who took his own life in February was the fourth member of our Department to do so in as many years. His suicide was the first we discussed publicly because, as a Department, we decided it was time that we face this issue head-on.

We must stop treating police suicides like isolated incidents. More officers died by suicide in 2018 than in the line of duty. The rate of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression for police and firefighters is five times higher than the general population, according to research from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Yet only 10 percent of police departments have a suicide prevention program, according to PoliceOne.com.

I’d like to think we are a little ahead of the game at KCPD. We have an Employee Wellness Unit and are working toward implementing a peer support program. But more is needed. We need a dedicated mental health professional on staff. We need a psychiatrist who understands what first responders face, has expertise in treating them and can devote all of his or her professional time to the mental health care of Kansas City Missouri Police Department members. We work with medical doctors when our officers are physically hurt in the line of duty and arrange for their treatment. Treatment for mental illnesses that are duty-related deserves just as much priority. Officers cannot properly provide for the safety of our city if they are injured physically or mentally.

We do not have a place for a psychiatrist in our budget, unfortunately. That is why I was excited to see a bill being proposed by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley called the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019. This legislation would grant up to $7 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to, among other things, offer counseling to law enforcement officers and their families. Other permitted uses for the funds include evidence-based suicide-prevention programs, specialized training for mental health and suicide prevention, and related support services.

Many major-city police departments have psychiatrists on staff. The Los Angeles Police Department has 17 of them, for example. While our department is not nearly as large, we are the largest law enforcement agency in Missouri, serving the state’s most populous city. Our officers face the unique stresses of policing an urban environment. These range from an increased risk of being confronted by an armed suspect to a high exposure to secondary trauma, commonly defined as the stress derived from helping others who are suffering or who have been traumatized.

There are KCPD detectives who investigate child pornography on a daily basis. Others listen to children who recount experiences of horrific abuse. Patrol officers and accident investigators come upon grizzly crash scenes. They must see the bodies of toddlers who were shot and killed playing with a firearm. They see devastated families regularly. They frequently encounter people who want to hurt or kill them. Then they go home to their own spouses and children and try to act like none of that affected them. It’s a heavy burden, and it’s one we hope to ease with the help of a KCPD psychiatrist.

The Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act would provide the mechanism to make that happen. This is National Police Week, a time when the nation reflects upon the deadly sacrifices some officers have made while honoring the service of all law enforcement. We love hearing people say “thank you for your service,” but urging legislators to support this legislation would put those words into action.


This originally appeared as a guest commentary in the Kansas City Star on May 12, 2019. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Four people have earned $10K reward for homicide tips, none has claimed it


A year ago, in April 2018, we partnered with the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, its Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline and the City of Kansas City, Missouri, to increase the possible reward for valid tips in homicide cases to $10,000. In November 2017, we’d increased it to $5,000. Before that, it was $2,000.

The hope was the increased reward amount would make more people come forward with anonymous information that would solve homicides that take place in Kansas City, Mo., and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Indeed, homicide tips, specifically, have gone up a bit, according to Crime Stoppers Coordinator Detective Kevin Boehm. The percentage of those that are valid remains about the same, however.

Overall, tips from across the metro area to Crime Stoppers have increased by about 10 percent over the past two years. The actual number of phone calls is going down, but tips submitted online and through the P3 Tips app have gone up.

Since increasing the possible reward for KCMO homicide information to $10,000 a year ago, four individuals have submitted tips that qualify for the full reward. But a funny thing has happened: none of them has claimed the money. Maybe doing the right thing was more important. I certainly respect that, and it’s not that unusual. In the 300 Crime Stopper programs nationwide, about 60 to 70 percent of all tip pay-outs are never collected.

For some people, however, money is a great motivator. I just wanted to ensure that everyone knows how anonymous the process is for submitting and collecting on successful tips. Here’s how it works:

A tipster calls 816-474-8477 (TIPS), uses the free P3 Tips mobile app or the www.KCCrimeStoppers.com website to submit a tip. Crime Stoppers staff members take a tip report with the tipster referred to as “the caller” or “tipster.” It’s gender- neutral, ensuring anonymity. Once the tipster has provided the tip, they are issued a code number. They can use that code to check on the status of their tip or add additional information. Crime Stoppers sends the information to the applicable investigative element or agency. (They serve the entire Kansas City metro area, not just KCPD.)

If a tip leads to an arrest, the agency or element will contact the Hotline and inform them of the results of the arrest. That information is entered into a database, and Crime Stoppers staff recommend a reward amount. They take those recommendations to the monthly Crime Stoppers Board meeting, where the 40-plus member board votes and approves the reward amounts on each valid case.

Because it’s anonymous, Crime Stoppers can’t call a tipster and let them know a reward has been approved. The tipster must call back with their code number to check on the status of their tip. If they have the proper code and can verify the information they already gave, they are given a pay-out date, location and an additional code word. Pay-outs take place at locations throughout the metro area. Neither Crime Stoppers staff nor law enforcement ever sees the tipster.

I want to keep the $10,000 reward in the public eye for the hundreds of grieving family members who are waiting for justice in the murder of their loved one. I also want to assure anyone who may have the information we need to solve a case that they can provide that information completely anonymously and earn a handsome pay-out while doing the right thing.

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