Thursday, August 24, 2017

My first week as Chief

(Chief Richard Smith was sworn in as KCPD's 45th Chief of Police on Aug. 15, 2017.)

It’s been just more than a week now since I was sworn in as the Chief of Police of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, and it has been a whirlwind. I again thank the Board of Police Commissioners for giving me the opportunity to serve in this role. I am humbled and honored to do so.

I’d like to share with you a little about my first week as Chief. Last Thursday, the 17th, I met with all of our commanders and directors to discuss my vision for the department and how I think we can work together to achieve it. I have three primary goals:

1. Set employees up for success

2. Reduce crime and address neighborhood issues

3. Become more efficient and effective through partnerships.

There are many, many factors that go into achieving these things, and I’ll be sharing those in the future. But I wanted to give you a few examples of each of them now.

Set employees up for success- To better cope with the growing mental health crisis that is falling more and more on law enforcement, all patrol officers will receive Crisis Intervention Team training. This will allow every responding officer to have the tools and training necessary to respond to people in mental health or substance abuse crisis in a way that ensures everyone is safe and the person gets needed assistance.

Reduce crime and address neighborhood issues- We’re implementing patrol division-level crime intelligence meetings. Commanders of each patrol division will be held accountable for the crime in their areas. And as soon as staffing allows, all patrol division stations will have an additional community interaction officer, making for 12 altogether. I think this is one of the most important positions on the KCPD, as these officers serve as the points of contact for all neighborhood concerns.

Become more efficient and effective through partnerships- We are working to get social workers assigned to each patrol division in the city. We started this last year when I commanded Central Patrol Division, and our social worker addressed numerous social problems that had evolved into public safety issues, from unruly gatherings of youth on the Plaza to neighborhood disputes. She has been able to step in and resolve things in ways law enforcement could not, and I am certain this would be beneficial city-wide.

I’ve also spent my first week addressing staffing issues. We need to get more call-takers and dispatchers in our 911 Call Center, and we need to get more patrol officers on the streets as soon as possible. They are the heart of what we do as police.

So in the past week, I’ve visited employees in many units around the department. Some were the officers in Central and East Patrol Divisions, and I paid two visits to our Communications Unit to let them know that we are working to get more quality personnel hired to reduce their workloads and improve service to the people of Kansas City. Our patrol officers and communications professionals should know that their hard work is so appreciated and vital, and I am supporting them during these challenging times.

I’ve also been to multiple crime scenes and several protest events. It is very difficult emotionally, but I will continue to be out at crime scenes to see how our people are responding, and if we are doing the most we possibly can to get witnesses to come forward and send the right message to victims’ loved ones and bystanders. I also hope to continue to grow my understanding of what leads to these tragedies and to support the hard-working KCPD members who respond to these incidents. I also will be at demonstrations and events because I’d like to hear the community’s concerns and be accessible.

My first week as Chief of Police has certainly been eventful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I look forward to serving you.

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