Monday, August 10, 2009

We need your cooperation

August traditionally has been one of the most violent months in our city. To stop this, we must work together. If you know something about a crime, please, please report it to us. It’s the only way to get violent offenders off the street. The TIPS Hotline is there for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his or her identity with police. The Hotline takes painstaking measures to assure anonymity, both through its phone number and its e-mail and texting tips services. They even purchased special software to scrub identifying information from all phone and e-mail sources.

I say this because we had several incidents this past weekend in which victims chose not to prosecute the people who shot them. Unlike domestic violence cases in which police and prosecutors can pursue a case without the victim’s cooperation, a victim of an aggravated assault must work with police to bring about prosecution. When they choose not to cooperate, an attempted murderer remains on the loose, and retaliatory shootings that could injure innocent people happen in place of real justice.

Consider the following incidents that happened this weekend:

August 7: Officers were called to the 5400 block of Highland at about 8:21 pm to investigate a call about shots being fired. When the officers arrived, they found two people had been shot. One victim, a male in his 30's, received a non-life threatening injury. He did not want to prosecute. The male victim was holding a female toddler who also was struck. Her injuries were considered life-threatening. Both victims were transported to area hospitals for treatment. Officers were told a dark-color car drove by the residence and fired shots into a group of approximately 40 people who were gathered in the front yard.

Without the adult male’s cooperation in this case, it will be difficult to pursue charges on behalf of the toddler. But we are going to try.

August 8: At 6:25 a.m., officers were dispatched to 51st Street and South Benton on a party down. Upon arrival, they found the victim lying in the street with a gunshot wound to his leg. The victim said he was walking westbound on 51st from South Benton and was singing in a loud voice. He further stated that an unknown black male stepped out from between the houses just to the north of him and shot him in the leg. The victim's wounds appeared non-life-threatening. He stated he did not want to prosecute, and he did not want to give any further information.

August 9: At 3 p.m., officers were dispatched to Research Medical Center regarding two people arriving in a gold Cadillac Escalade who had been shot several times. Upon arrival, the officers observed a gold Escalade with several gunshot holes to the passenger door. Both men were being treated for non-life threatening wounds and did not wish to provide any information regarding the shooting. While at the Research Hospital, East Patrol officers were dispatched to the 4200 block of Agnes regarding shots fired. Upon arrival, they were informed that the two suspects at Research had just fired shots into their house from a gold Escalade and left north on Agnes. There was an apparent argument over a cell phone, and the victim from the 4200 block of Agnes returned fire and struck the suspects prior to them fleeing in the Escalade north on Agnes. The victim from 4200 Agnes had not come forward at the time of this report. Information came from third-party witnesses.

It is very frustrating for police when victims choose not to prosecute, but we don’t simply throw our hands up and walk away from the crime scene. We carefully gather and process any physical evidence and turn it over to the Crime Lab for analysis. Oftentimes, the bullets connect to guns used in prior crimes and other shootings down the road. Detectives also interview all of the witnesses they can and hang onto that information for possible use in prior or future cases.

Ultimately, the safety of Kansas City is up to those who live here. Those living in crime-battered areas of town must decide to take back their neighborhoods. This is best achieved by having a zero-tolerance policy of crime. Report suspicious happenings. Submit tips when you know about a crime. Cooperate with police if you become a victim. If you start now, this August could be the beginning of a welcome trend in violent crime decline.

Send comments to