Residents who live in “hot spot” areas should be seeing police presence stepped up in their neighborhoods. This weekend, we deployed additional resources on the streets as part of our area command system. We pulled officers and detectives from all over the department to staff the deployment. Some haven’t been out in the field for some time, but they have been put on special assignment to battle the scourge of violence in those areas.
I also have reassigned a Deputy Chief to oversee this deployment. He is the Designated Area Command Coordinator. His duties are, in part, bringing resources to the crime hot spot areas, monitoring activity in those areas and engaging department elements.
We experienced several successes with this deployment method over the weekend. In one incident, a suspect who had just shot somebody fled and was immediately apprehended by police who were in the area. That suspect has been charged.
The additional officers will answer 911 calls for service, but their primary goal is to proactively patrol these neighborhoods and deter violence. We want them to identify and arrest those who possess firearms illegally. We also want them to build trust with the law-abiding residents of these areas.
We know we are in the right place. More than 50 percent of this year’s homicides have occurred in two hot spot areas or within a couple blocks of them. This homicide phenomenon is not new, (in the last 40 years, there were just nine years in which Kansas City had fewer than 100 homicides), but this method of concentrating resources in a small area where we know crime is taking place is a new approach in our city.
I am concerned about the greater number of homicides so far this year compared to this time last year (39 vs. 27). Last year saw a spike of homicides in November, however, and we ended the year with 114. At this point in 2009, Kansas City had 41 homicides and ended the year with 110, which unfortunately, is about average. You can see that we are about on pace with the number of homicides in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by looking at our Daily Homicide Analysis. Just one homicide is one too many, however, and as you can see, police are doing everything they can to address violent crime.
In addition to more manpower, we’re deploying more technology. At a press conference on Friday, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver announced the partnership between the police department, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Federal Transit Administration to install ShotSpotter technology. This equipment will help police respond to the sound of gunshots much more quickly to apprehend shooters and assist victims.
This area command system is not a project or a program. It is the way we will do business: putting resources in the communities where they’re most needed. But police alone cannot prevent violence or homicides. The public must step up to decry the violence and cooperate with law enforcement. More and more have been doing that, which has led to increased clearance rates and dangerous people behind bars.
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