Thursday, January 29, 2015

Traffic fatalities are down significantly in Kansas City

Much has been said about the reduced homicide numbers in 2014, but there’s another markedly lower, historically significant statistic in Kansas City that represents more lives saved: traffic fatalities.

There were 48 in 2014, which is the first time that number has been that low since 1994, which also had 48 traffic deaths. We could only find statistics dating back to 1990, and there was not a lower number during that time. Some of our veteran officers believe this could be the lowest number of fatalities in 50 years. Kansas City usually averages 62 to 63 traffic deaths per year. As with homicides, 48 traffic deaths are still too many, representing 48 families who are grieving. One particularly tragic incident happened at the end of 2014 when two young women and three small children in a car all were killed in a crash with a semi-truck on Interstate 435. Our thoughts and prayers are with those they left behind.

But we are making progress. Thirteen fewer families had to grieve the loss of their loved ones to traffic crashes in Kansas City in 2014 than in 2013. In fact, this marks the second year in a row traffic deaths have fallen substantially. There were 72 in 2012, then 61 in 2013, and 48 in 2014. That’s a 33 percent reduction over a two-year period.

There are many different causes for this reduction, but I think some of it can be attributed to the work of our officers. We wanted to try something different to make an impact, so we added a fifth Traffic Enforcement squad in 2014. Enforcement activity was, therefore, much higher. Patrol Division officers not assigned to Traffic Enforcement also stepped up their issuance of traffic citations. Overall, enforcement activity was up about 20 percent, and fatalities were reduced in equal measure. If there had not been tangible, life-saving results, we would have deployed that additional squad of Traffic Enforcement officers elsewhere. I will continue to watch the correlation between enforcement and reduced fatalities for any indications that we should use our resources in another way, but right now they’re doing exactly what we’d hoped they’d do: save lives.

So how does increased enforcement activity lead to reduced fatalities? Consider the statistics from 2014. Of the 48 people killed, excessive speed was a contributing factor in 24 of their deaths. Alcohol was a factor in 19 fatalities, and drugs in 10 fatalities. Other contributing factors to fatal crashes last year included eight sign/signal violations, three people who failed to yield and two lane violations. These all are things we write citations for. The more people we stop who are travelling at excessive speeds, driving recklessly or are intoxicated, then the fewer dangerous drivers are on the road. We hope that citation modifies the driver’s behavior, encouraging them to obey traffic laws in the future.

Seat belts are another major piece of this, as they always are. Last year, Kansas City passed a primary seat belt law, which allowed officers to stop and cite drivers and passengers not wearing their seat belts. Previously, officers could not stop a vehicle just for a seat belt violation. They could issue that ticket in addition to another citation, but lack of a seat belt could not be the cause of the stop. It can now. Major Jim Pruetting, commander of the Traffic Division, told me his officers issued a lot of seat belt tickets (more than 3,200 more than in 2013), and anecdotally, they’re seeing far more people wearing them.

Of the 48 people killed in crashes in 2014, seven were pedestrians, four were motorcyclists and one was a bicyclist. That leaves 36 who were killed in cars. Twenty-three of them, or 64 percent, were not wearing their seat belts.

Kansas City stands out for its reduction in traffic fatalities. The State of Missouri recorded just three fewer traffic deaths in 2014 compared to 2013, and that drop is thanks to Kansas City. Many other places experienced increased fatality crashes.

But like homicides, there is only so much police can do to affect them. It is incumbent on everyone who operates a motor vehicle in Kansas City to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. This truly is a life-saver.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trend of violence against children is very disturbing

We have had a very disturbing trend of violence against children in the Kansas City metro area lately. These children are among the most vulnerable of our community, and it is everyone's duty to do keep them from harm and to bring about justice for those who have harmed children. Staying silent when a child has been injured or killed is inexcusable cowardice. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has noted this tragic string of violent acts against children in the metro area. She issued a press release this weekend that I wanted to share with you. Several of these cases, like the murder of 14-year-old Alexis Kane and 3-year-old Damiah White and her mother, remain unsolved. Please do the right thing and call the TIPS Hotline if you have any information at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Disturbing trend of child abuse and death

We have recently seen in our Metro area an alarming and disturbing trend of our children falling prey to horrendous acts of violence, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a prepared statement released today.

These children are an integral part of our community and they are defenseless, innocent and easily injured, Baker continued. Our children have been shot, beaten, burned and abused. Our metro area should not be a dangerous or perilous place for children to reside.

It is our community’s duty to protect them, to look after them. We must secure our weapons, never strike them when angry, get immediate medical care when they are injured, and report, report, report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect. When kids are abused, neglected, in danger, shot, beaten, burned or abused, we should not walk to the police station to help; we should run for help.
Failing to protect these children is society’s greatest failing. We must do better.

What follows is just a partial list of the many recent cases in which child have become victims of violence or neglect:

- Friday, January 16: a 2-year old child is shot inside his south KC home

- Sunday, January 11: 7-year old seriously injured after being struck by gunfire on I-70

- Sunday, January 11: 14-year-old Alexis Kane, was found dead outside a South KC Water Park.

- Friday, January 9: 2-year-old Lorenzo Estrada was beaten and died of his injuries on January 10.

- Thursday, January 8: 7-month-old, J.S., was discovered with burns from injuries occurring earlier in December.

- Wednesday, January 7: 3-year-old T.D. shot inside her KCMO home at 38th and Chestnut.

- Sunday, January 4: 7-month-old Jaquail Mansaw killed inside a KCK home.

- Friday, December 26: 4-year-old boy was struck by gunfire as his home on Hardesty was fired upon.

- Friday, December 12: 2-year-old K.G.K., from Independence, sustained burns.

- Sunday, October 26: 10-year-old Machole Stewart killed inside a KCK home.

- Friday, October 17: 6-year-old Angel Hooper killed outside a South KC gas station.

In addition, we remember 10-year-old Kavyea Curry who was paralyzed from a shooting that also killed his father on Friday, April 19, 2014. A 5-year-old was also in the car. And we remember Damiah White, just 3, who was found murdered in her home during on Friday, August 23, 2013. Her and her mother’s murder remains unsolved. We await your call. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

KC 2014 homicides lowest since 1972

In 2014, Kansas City, Mo., experienced the lowest number of homicides it has since 1972. There have been 77 recorded homicides in 2014. Keep in mind, this number still could fluctuate. Investigators are waiting on a toxicology report for one person. If someone dies next year from an act of violence that took place this year, it will be added to 2014’s total. (This has happened before, up to 10 years later – someone is injured by a traumatic beating or shooting, and they must receive long-term care. They later pass away from injuries ultimately resulting from their assault.)

The chart below shows the verifiable UCR (Uniform Crime Report numbers submitted annually to the FBI) data we have on Kansas City homicides dating back to 1969. None of these numbers include officer-involved shootings. They are apples-to-apples comparisons. 

While we are pleased with the reductions in these numbers, we know there are still 77 families grieving. We will not give up working for justice for them. Nor will we rest in our efforts to prevent more violent crime from taking place. 

We have done many things to reduce violent crime, but many others have been part of making our city safer. Below are some of our initiatives: 

Our Victim Assistance Unit has gone a long way to ensure violent crime victims and their family members get the support they need and let the justice process take its course, reducing acts of retaliation. The detectives assigned to the unit have offered the victims crisis intervention, criminal justice information and referrals to community services for needs directly resulting from the crime such as shelter, food, clothing, grief and trauma counseling. By far, the most requested service from these victims has been trauma counseling. 

The Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) deserves credit for reducing violent crime while beefing up community support for police. KC NoVA is a partnership begun in 2013 between our department, prosecutors, city government, social services and academia. This program has mapped out the relationships of everyone involved in a violent crime in our city over the last four years. It targets the most violent offenders – those at the epicenters of these criminal networks – for aggressive prosecution. For those less-violent offenders on the periphery of the mapped-out criminal networks, KC NoVA offers them a way out of a criminal lifestyle through support and social services. These offenders have been identified as being 100 times more likely to be a murder victim than the average Kansas City resident. KC NoVA’s Social Services component has assessed hundreds of clients. In partnership with numerous community resources, KC NoVA has provided them with substance abuse treatment, employment assistance, housing services, anger management courses and mental health treatment. Many clients cannot read or write and have received literacy and education assistance. 

The lack of literacy among those in criminal networks highlights the importance of early intervention, and it’s why I consider our Police Athletic League (PAL) an important crime-fighting tool. PAL offers youth the opportunity to interact with police officers in a positive setting while participating in cultural, mentoring and sports programs, with the main emphasis placed on academics. PAL is a non-profit organization staffed by Kansas City Police officers. The officers often get very involved in the lives of the children. They have done everything from driving them to a doctor’s appointment to helping their families get a new furnace when they could not afford one. The impact PAL has had on the lives of our urban-core children, many of whom live in poverty, cannot be overstated. Some of these children have gone on to college with academic and athletic scholarships, attaining careers they never would have thought possible. They also are a new generation of urban-core residents who trust police, and who have brought their family and friends to do so, as well. 

At the beginning of 2014, we also nearly doubled the amount of police personnel who work in hot spots, which are the small areas of the city where the most violent crime occurs. Every officer, detective and sergeant on this department not in an under-cover position now works six nights a year in a “hot spot.” Essentially, this means there is an extra squad of officers in East, Central and Metro Patrol divisions during their busiest nights every week. That’s more than 14,000 hours of additional police service for the residents of our city who are most affected by violent crime, and all of that came from existing resources. 

The fact remains that we cannot do what we do without the community. They are our eyes and ears. The more trust between police and residents, the safer our city is, period. We have amazing support from faith, business and neighborhood leaders. Our officers know that the vast majority of our residents are law-abiding folks who want the violence to stop as much as we do. We have forged some extremely beneficial partnerships with these residents, and they are making their communities safer.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

In these times of scrutiny, I'm proud of KCPD members and our city

These have been trying times for relations between law enforcement and the other members of the communities they serve (I say “and other members” because members of law enforcement are part of their communities, too). Police are under greater scrutiny than ever before. In light of that, I’d like to say how proud I am of the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Our employees have exhibited professionalism during the most difficult situations, especially in recent weeks. One great example: on the night of one of the largest protests, when hundreds of people decried police brutality, our officers arranged to have a KCATA bus transport the protesters back to their vehicles. It was cold and dark, and the officers knew the protesters had walked a long way.

KCPD members have continued to show what compassionate and caring individuals they are. In just the past couple of days, local news organizations have reported on how our officers work to ensure hungry children have food to eat and how an officer spent his time on his day off putting in new porch lights for elderly residents in the urban core. And those are just the stories that got reported. Our officers dole out small kindnesses every day that most people will never know. I appreciate everyone on social media and elsewhere who tell me about when they see one of our officers quietly doing a good deed.

This professionalism and compassion among our staff is by no means new. But with the spotlight on law enforcement nowadays, it certainly gives me more confidence than ever that our department is composed of quality people who really strive to achieve our mission: “Protect and serve with professionalism, honor and integrity.”

But I would be remiss not to thank the people of Kansas City, as well. Thank you for your civility. Thank you for letting your thoughts be known in a peaceful manner. Thank you for respecting the rights and property of others. Know that I am listening. I hear your frustration. One of my main goals as chief of police is to improve relationships between KCPD and the rest of the community. We are working toward that every day.

To that end, please come share your thoughts with us at a forum this Saturday. It will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Palestine Missionary Baptist Church at 3619 E. 35th St. You’ll be able to sit down with the commander of the patrol division in which you live (as well as the Traffic Division commander), hear what’s going on in your area and share any thoughts and concerns you may have.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We're ready for Ferguson grand jury decision

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if the Kansas City Missouri Police Department is ready for the decision of the grand jury in the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Mo. The short answer is, “yes.” We’re always ready. We train constantly for critical incidents, and we are prepared to allocate resources wherever needed. We are supposed to receive some advance notice of the grand jury’s decision, but we would be prepared if it happened right now.

We’re not over-preparing because we don’t anticipate any large-scale events of civil disorder. Kansas City has a history of exercising their First Amendment rights in a peaceful manner. On many occasions in recent years, we’ve seen members of protestor groups step up and say they aren’t going to tolerate those intent on violence and destruction. They did it in the initial Ferguson demonstrations here. They did it during demonstrations for Trayvon Martin. We have good people here in Kansas City who know how to get their message across while respecting the rights and property of others.

There will always be alarmists – people who want to stir the pot and agitate and create fear. I am not afraid, and you shouldn’t be, either. This of course does not mean that KCPD isn’t ready to handle anything that happens. We are. We will be using covert and overt resources. Commanders will have a more visible presence out in the field. But we will not be heavy-handed. We will engage only at the level necessary to protect life and property.

Long before Ferguson, our department members had been working to build trust with other segments of our community. I have been blessed to hear from numerous community leaders who are constantly asking me how they can help. They and many others in our city have done a great deal. That’s evident in our reduced crime rates this year. They have refused to tolerate violent and property crimes in their community, and they’ve worked with us toward the goal of a safer city.

Law enforcement around the nation is under a higher level of scrutiny than ever before. Our personnel know this. During these difficult times, we will do everything we can to support those who want to lawfully express themselves while protecting the people and property of Kansas City.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Property crimes also decrease and remain a priority

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the reduction in violent crimes – particularly homicides – in Kansas City this year. But I want to assure you this does not mean we’ve forgotten about property crimes. We have many people working as hard as ever to stop those who commit these crimes, which affect far more of our residents than violent crime does.

And the proof of their hard work, combined with help from the community, is in the statistical pudding. Through the first of September, property crimes in Kansas City were down by 13 percent compared to the same time period last year. To break that down further, burglaries were down 19 percent, stealing was down 13 percent, and auto theft was down 5 percent.

I recently came across some great examples of the hard work our detectives are doing to protect our residents’ property and stop habitual offenders. The Central Patrol Division experienced a spike in business and residential burglaries over the last few months. There were several different patterns and modus operandi. Central Property Crimes Section detectives went after these cases with vigor. In one month, they filed cases on suspects in five separate burglary patterns, including a group of known gang members responsible for burglaries all over the metropolitan area.

They stopped a career criminal they’d previously called “Spiderman.” He would climb onto the balconies of second- and third-story apartments and enter them through unlocked sliding glass doors, stealing jewelry, cell phones and electronics. The detectives recognized the pattern because they’d investigated “Spiderman” five years ago and realized he’d been released from prison at the same time the thefts started again. Detectives conducted surveillance on him and followed him to an abandoned house full of all the property he’d stolen. He was arrested and charged.

They stopped someone else who was stealing lawn equipment from sheds and detached garages. Another suspect was arrested after prowling and stealing from numerous houses, often when the residents were home.

Another career criminal recently released from prison was breaking into downtown lofts by cutting through walls. Detectives gathered surveillance video and showed it to district officers to see if they recognized the man. They didn’t. That’s because the man had just gotten out of prison. He made the mistake of dropping a car title near one of the burglary scenes. The Central Property Crimes detectives were able to track him down, and he matched the suspect in the surveillance videos. He confessed to the crimes, and detectives found several of the items he stole at local pawn shops.

So in just one month, one property crimes squad stopped five major burglary rings. We have five other property crimes squads who are working just as hard. The drop in violent crime has gotten most of the press, and we are certainly encouraged by that. But through September 1, there were 11,133 more victims of property crime than violent crime in Kansas City. It affects many more people, and that’s why we continue to devote adequate resources to combating it. But fortunately, fewer and fewer people are becoming victims: 2,165 fewer victims of property crime this year compared to last year.

And as always, your help is integral to keeping property crime down:

· Do not leave items of value in your vehicle.

· Park in well-lit areas at night.

· Lock your home and vehicle.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflecting on my third anniversary as Chief of Police

Over the past three years, I have had the pleasure of leading an organization filled with talented, dedicated, compassionate and professional employees. Since being appointed chief of police on October 13, 2011, I have experienced a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth thanks to many. 

Both my immediate and extended family have been nothing but supportive and encouraging during my entire 29 years of employment with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.  I am so blessed and appreciative to have them in my life. Same goes for my few close groups of friends who look out for my well-being, several of whom contact me daily.   

My faith-based supporters are very much appreciated as they have prayed for me regularly as well as remind me that I work for God and not for man.  Oftentimes I have made decisions that others question, which I encourage and welcome, but please know that I pray before making most major decisions and will follow the guidance of my heavenly Father. Thus far, when I have listened to him, many crises have been averted.

What I am most encouraged about during my tenure as chief is the reduction in the number of homicides in Kansas City. The reduction in the number of homicides committed this year is unparalleled during the past five decades. The credit for the reduction is only in part due to the efforts of the police department. Many organizations, programs and individuals are contributing to making our city safer than it has been for decades. Oftentimes when I respond to homicide scenes, I observe witnesses openly sharing information with detectives. Many are willing to respond to Police Headquarters to provide formal statements.

Even media coverage of violent crimes has diminished. My observations over the past 18 months have revealed less doomsday coverage from some of the local media outlets. During a brief period of my tenure as chief, I and others noticed an increase in negative coverage, even when there had been no increase in violent crimes.  Responsible reporting has, without a doubt, contributed to increasing the feelings of safety in some parts of our community. People tend to want to get involved more when they feel as though the situation is not hopeless.

We should not become complacent, nor should we claim victory. There is no cause to celebrate the still too-high number of senseless acts of violence in our city. We must continue to work together to make the greater metropolitan area one of the safest areas in the country.

What I am currently most concerned about is the police department’s inability to attract and retain qualified minority police officers. The number of minority police officers has increased during my tenure as chief, but not to a level where I am satisfied. Institutional racism exists within many organizations, and law enforcement is not exempt. I have noticed that many who broach the subject of recruiting have done little to contribute to solving the problem, but they often espouse to have the solutions for others to implement. The entire community should be responsible for recruiting police officers who can best serve our community. Weekly, in the national spotlight, we hear of negative race-related issues between the police and other segments of the community. These issues are real!  The community has made it clear that increased minority representation is needed. I implore the entire community to get involved. Ask yourself this question, “How might I contribute to increasing diversity?”  You can share your ideas/concerns at Attorney General Koster’s Roundtable on Tuesday, October 14, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the theater of the Student Union building on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 5100 Cherry Street. Several local chiefs of police also will be meeting on Tuesday, at another location, to discuss minority recruitment and other issues. Rest assured that I will continue to keep this issue on the forefront of my agenda. (And FYI, I prayed before I drafted this paragraph.)

Organizational and cultural changes in the police department have been a continuous process and are necessary to gain and nurture community trust. Problem solving will continue to be viewed as a shared responsibility between the police and other segments of the community.

We will continue to practice fiscal discipline throughout the department to ensure continued financial viability and to increase efficiency, avoid periods of stagnation, continue to reach out to the community en masse through social media and by other means, incorporate emerging technologies in our day-to-day operations and to provide high-quality services in a customer-friendly manner.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the Board of Police Commissioners for allowing me to serve our community.  

Please know that I will continue to do what is in the best interest of the entire community and have no plans to retire any time soon. I am often asked how long will I serve as chief and if I have a contract. I will serve until I accomplish what I have set out to accomplish and no, I do not have a contract. By state statute I must retire at age 65. I am 52 years old, so I have almost 13 years of eligibility.

Thanks again to all who have contributed to making my dreams come true!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Kansas City Regional Crime Lab earns International Accreditation

The Kansas City Regional Crime Lab staff are the behind-the-scenes folks on whom the burden of justice often rests. Their work puts perpetrators of violent and property crimes behind bars, thereby protecting our neighborhoods. They recently received an honor confirming what we already knew: they're among the best in the nation. The below is from our monthly Informant newsletter and describes what this honor means for Kansas City: 

The Kansas City Regional Crime Lab has proved itself as one of the best in the nation after receiving a new breed of accreditation.

The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) bestowed their International Accreditation for Forensic Science Testing Laboratories on the Kansas City Lab on Sept. 3. A total of 104 city and county crime laboratories have earned the International Accreditation. Kansas City, however, is just one of seven labs nationwide to get accreditation in eight different disciplines, the most of any city or county lab ASCLD/LAB reviewed, according to their web site’s directory.

“For a local department, it’s a very impressive achievement to earn International Accreditation in all those disciplines,” ASCLD/LAB Executive Director John Neuner said.

The eight disciplines in which Kansas City’s lab earned International Accreditation are drug chemistry, toxicology, trace evidence, biology, firearms toolmarks, latent prints, crime scene and digital multimedia evidence.

The Kansas City Regional Crime Lab was previously accredited under ASCLD/LAB’s Legacy Program, but leaders wanted to take it to the next level. Neuner said the new level of accreditation is more stringent, has more requirements and is harder to achieve. It requires forensic laboratories to conform to standards that are in place for labs around the world, not just those agreed upon by American lab directors, as the old system did.

It took two years of work for the Kansas City Lab to earn the International Accreditation, said Lisa Dowler, the Lab’s Quality Assurance Manager. A group of staff members from every discipline met on a weekly basis to ensure the lab met every single standard. She said the process made them better.

“It makes us look at ourselves and look at our processes and how we can continually improve them,” she said.

She said the new standards are very customer-based, and their customers are several people in the judicial process: detectives, prosecutors, courts, attorneys and whoever gets their reports.

The process also had an impact on everyone at the Lab, from the scientists to the Building Operations and Property and Evidence technicians.

“It affected how we communicate with our customers, how we order supplies, how we check our instruments, word our reports, fix issues when they arise, how we set our goals and manage the laboratory,” she said. “So not only was the scientific staff affected, everyone was, from the Building Operations personnel that clean the labs to the administrative assistants and how they order our supplies for us.”

So why did everyone go to so much work for a piece of paper that grants International Accreditation for the next four years?

Ultimately, it’s to fight crime. When the Crime Lab presents evidence that is all but irrefutable, criminals go to prison and victims get justice.

“It’s a symbol for the people of Kansas City and the courts that a quality system exists within your lab, and you’ve demonstrated you’re following internationally recognized standards,” Neuner said. “It gives greater confidence in the quality of work coming out of the laboratory.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crime continues to trend downward in Kansas City

The statistics that will be presented to our Board of Police Commissioners tomorrow continue to show a significant decrease in crime compared to last year. These are above and have been certified by the state of Missouri for submission to the FBI (that process takes some time, which is why these numbers are through the end of July).

As of this morning, homicides are down by 31.5 percent compared to last year. In fact, this is the first significant reduction in homicides in the last 50 years. There are many things to which I could credit this, and I don’t claim to know all the reasons, but some of them are increased community cooperation with police, more neighborhoods that are refusing to tolerate crime, the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA), and the work our officers are doing every day to build trust and fight crime.

Take, for example, the work of our Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit. They are the enforcement arm of KC NoVA. Their job is to go after those who are at the nexus of violent criminal networks. So far this year, they have recovered 119 guns that were possessed illegally. They’ve also made 38 arrests for felons in possession of firearms (which carries a minimum federal prison sentence of five years with no parole) and 16 arrests for other federal firearm violations. They’ve also arrested 322 people wanted on state-level warrants and another 188 who were under investigation for serious (usually violent) crimes.

Crime is down in Kansas City, but it certainly is not eliminated. We continue to rely on the community to assist us. This assistance comes in any number of ways – from mentoring at-risk children to calling the TIPS Hotline. Continued efforts like those will lead to further crime reductions and safer neighborhoods.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflecting on Sept. 11 and the importance of first responder relationships

I’m sure everyone who is reading this can remember where they were and what they were doing 13 years ago today. I was on the fifth floor of Headquarters serving as acting deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau because the regular deputy chief was on vacation that week. I was looking out the window when the first crash happened. There was a TV in my office, and I looked over and saw it.

There is so much to remember and reflect upon today, but one thing that keeps crossing my mind is how vital the relationships between first responders are. Police officers and firefighters were the ones rushing into the Twin Towers that day when everyone else was rushing away from them. They worked together to get thousands of people to safety. Sadly, hundreds of first responders lost their lives in their attempts to save the lives of others.

While Kansas City never has experienced anything near the scope of those attacks (and I pray we never will), our police officers, firefighters and paramedics enter dangerous situations all the time, often side by side. We are blessed to have two groups of professionals who work so well together in Kansas City.

Dozens and dozens of times each day, KCPD and KCFD join up to serve the people of Kansas City – at car wrecks, when someone has been assaulted, medical emergencies, arsons and so many more. A few weeks ago, we conducted joint active shooter training at City Hall. We know that both our departments would be called upon in such an emergency, and we are fortunate that we enjoy such a good relationship and can offer such a quick and professional response. I thank the members of both departments for all they do for the community.

Off the clock, there are many friendships and much camaraderie between members of our agencies. We donate to each other’s charitable causes and have supported each other through difficult budget times. Firefighters have even come to the aid of our officers when they were being assaulted. We have a solid relationship, and we are always ready to work for the good of the people of Kansas City.

Speaking of the public, we need you to continue to assist us. While today reminds me of the importance of first responders, it’s also a reminder that we must remain vigilant. Always be aware of your surroundings, and report any suspicious behavior you may see. The Kansas City Terrorism Early Warning Center’s web site offers some tips on what to look for. We appreciate your help in keeping our community safe.

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