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.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.  

Monday, March 4, 2019

How we're working to interrupt the cycle of violence

There has been much talk about senseless violence in Kansas City, but a recent high-profile case really highlighted what senseless violence looks like and how one bad decision led to another and another. This case rightly received a lot of attention because the victim was a child, and she was shot where all children should feel safe – just outside an event at school.

A chain of tragic, senseless and completely preventable events started the night of Feb. 12 outside a high school basketball game. A 15-year-old girl was murdered in the parking lot at Central High School. An 18-year-old female student at the school and another 21-year-old woman are charged with her murder. It was the result of a dispute that started inside at the game. Instead of talking out their differences or splitting up to cool off, the suspects drove up to the victim just outside the school doors, and the 21-year-old opened fire on her. In her interview with police, the suspect told detectives she “may have overreacted and she wished she would’ve left.” She also said, “I let the fire go.”

Officers identified the suspects in less than an hour. Within 18 hours, they were in custody.

A few days later, on Feb. 16, detectives saw threats posted on social media between the victim’s and suspects’ families. They went to the homes of each to inform them police were aware of the threats and would be closely monitoring their actions. We call these Risk for Retaliation meetings. Later that night, detectives learned a family member of the victim even planned to be arrested so she could retaliate against the suspects inside the Jackson County Jail. Police and jail staff met and formed a plan to prevent that from happening.

The ridiculous violence continued at the funeral of the 15-year-old victim on Saturday, Feb. 23. Given the senselessness that led to her death and threats of retaliation, we assigned uniformed officers to watch over the funeral home and church during her services. They heard multiple gunshots in the church parking lot and saw a vehicle speeding away. They pursued the vehicle, which did not stop, ignored traffic signals and exceeded the speed limits, reaching 75 to 90 mph before it was involved in a hit-and-run collision. The three occupants of the car ran off, throwing two guns along the way. Officers caught all three occupants, and a police canine helped officers find the two loaded guns the suspects had discarded. One of the guns had been reported stolen. All three of those men – ranging in age from 19-22 – now face a variety of felony charges.

All of this violence was for what? What did any of this accomplish other than ending the life of a 15-year-old and ruining the futures of the two young women responsible for her death? What does shooting at the funeral – or any act of retaliation, for that matter – accomplish? No one ever won, the cycle of violence continued, and more lives were put at risk.

This was by no means the first act of violence at the funeral of a Kansas City homicide victim. It has occurred countless times, even in funeral processions driving on the highway. Funerals are supposed to be a time for family members and friends to remember the lives of their loved ones and reflect upon and grieve their loss. They are events that should be surrounded in respect. Yet people who perpetuate the cycle of violence in Kansas City turn funerals into armed conflicts. This is where family members and everyone in Kansas City can get involved. This is where the members of our community can say that kind of behavior isn’t welcome, and if anyone intends to bring anything but an attitude of respect to a funeral, they’re not allowed.

As a police department, we can’t make people have better conflict resolution skills. We can’t be there every time a disagreement over something trivial escalates into violence. What we can and are doing is working to interrupt the cycle of violence, like the aforementioned Risk for Retaliation work we did. It’s why our officers were conducting surveillance outside that funeral. It’s why we seek out and take seriously reports of threats of violence on social media. It’s why we’ve made a concerted effort to work with urban-core teens in programs like the Youth Police Initiative, Youth Citizens Academy and Police Athletic League. Through these and other outreach efforts, we’ve shared anger management tools and built a bridge of trust, so young people don’t try to take matters into their own hands.

But we’re only a small part of the solution. A young person who thinks a gun is the best way to resolve a dispute reached that point long before police became involved. We are doing all we can to interrupt the cycle of violence in Kansas City, but we need your help. Family members, friends and classmates: if you know a potential violent conflict is brewing, please tell us. If we know before an incident occurs, we can save lives. It’s only by working together like this that we can prevent these crimes.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

With expanding technology, perpetrators of violent crime are more likely to get caught in KCMO

Within eight hours last week, detectives solved the murder of an innocent 71-year-old woman who was driving home from work. Had her murder occurred five years ago, it may never have been solved.

Barbara Harper was driving when she was shot and killed on the Downtown Loop about 3 a.m. Jan. 17. City surveillance cameras caught the whole thing, including the license plate number of the vehicle the shooter was in. Detectives used that and several other pieces of technology – from license plate readers to ballistics – to identity and arrest the suspect. We believe he had mistaken the victim’s vehicle for that belonging to another person with whom he had a dispute outside an adult business earlier in the evening.

Our message is to anyone thinking about engaging in violent crime or who knows anyone thinking of engaging in violent crime: it’s becoming more likely every day that you will get caught. There are parts of this city where we will detect your gunshot, see your license plate and capture your face on video. And those areas are expanding.

The technological advances our department has made in the last five years made solving the murder of Barbara Harper possible. She had no relationship to her killer, so traditional investigative measures likely would have produced little information. These advances have gotten us access to more public surveillance cameras and brought us more private surveillance camera partnerships. In addition to fixed-camera partnerships with entities like the Missouri Department of Transportation and the City of Kansas City, we have mobile surveillance cameras we can move around to different parts of town experiencing high crime.

These cameras work with our other public safety technology – like license plate readers and the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system – to help us identify guilty parties and prevent crime. The Police Foundation of Kansas City funded about half of these purchases, and I am very grateful for their donations. They, along with City officials who saw the importance of this equipment, are making our city safer.

Another example of partnerships and technology at work is the greatly decreased violent crime at what used to be troubled apartment complexes. We worked with a private video security company and about 20 apartment complexes that were experiencing violent crime issues on installing cameras around the public areas of the complex properties. Police can view video from the cameras and go back to review recorded video.

Our Real-Time Crime Center is staffed almost all day, every day with detectives and analysts to view and review video footage from all over the city. Officers on the streets also can view footage from many partner surveillance cameras on their cell phones.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, our partnerships with the public through WatchKC and the Neighbors by Ring app have continued to expand our ability to find the bad guys and bring them to justice. Now more than ever, if you choose to engage in violent crime, you stand a better chance of getting caught.

Barbara Harper’s senseless murder is just the most recent of many we have solved through video and technology. We’ve used this technology not only for homicides but other violent crimes such as shootings, rapes and robberies. With this technology, there is a lower probability you will get away with committing violent acts in this city. The deterrence effect will make Kansas City a safer place for everyone. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

We're following up on New Year's Eve gunfire

These shell casings were all from one address in East Patrol Division after New Year's Eve.
Officers sorted them by caliber and type.

The New Year’s Eve celebration of two weeks ago may be a distant memory for some, but police are still hard at work following up on reports of illegal celebratory gunfire. Despite our pleas and enforcement, despite an 11-year-old girl previously being killed by such behavior, and despite the damage it does to property, people continued to engage in celebratory gunfire as 2018 turned to 2019. You can see some of what it was like from Central Patrol Division by reading through our Twitter feed that night, when we did a tweet-along with officers from about 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. This year, as every other year, officers had to take cover around midnight for their protection. 

The ShotSpotter gunshot detection system covers 3.5 square miles of the city that have a high rate of gun violence and shots fired. Using that and recovered shell casings, officers found one address where 360 shots were fired on New Year’s Eve night, and they were from at least nine different guns, based on the calibers of the shell casings. In just East Patrol Division, officers recovered 180 additional shell casings from at least 13 other incidents.

Officers recovered several spent bullets from the parking spot of the East Patrol Division commander, Major Greg Volker, at the station. If he had been there getting out of his car at that time, he would have been hit. It is only dumb luck that prevented another horrible tragedy like what happened to Blair Shanahan Lane. As of noon on New Year’s Day, we’d taken two reports of property damage consistent with celebratory gunfire: one to a garage and the vehicle inside it, and another to a vehicle’s window. We know there’s probably much more out there that wasn’t reported.

From 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1, we received 301 calls to 911 about the sound of gun shots. The ShotSpotter system recorded 109 alerts during the same period. ShotSpotter can distinguish between gunfire and fireworks (there were those, too).

So what are we doing about it? We are gathering evidence so that as many people who illegally discharged firearms on New Year’s Eve (which is prohibited by City ordinance) can be issued citations if possible. It’s likely that some of those discharging firearms cannot legally possess a gun (because they are convicted felons, for example), so we are working with our federal partners to build those cases, as well.

New Year’s Eve should be a time of celebration and joy, not hiding in your basement with your children, as one terrified mom tweeted to us she was doing. We are doing our best to hold those accountable who wantonly risked the lives and safety of their neighbors.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org