Friday, July 10, 2020

Budget cuts will affect police service to those who need it most

Like so many other cities, Kansas City is facing an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kansas City Missouri Police Department, along with all other City departments, is being asked to identify 4.5% of our budget that could be cut. For us, that’s about $10.5 million. We know that we will have to make sacrifices like everyone else, and we are actively working on the best ways to do that.

Typically, between 85% and 90% of our budget goes to personnel costs, so personnel would have to comprise a majority of the cuts. We already had dozens of open positions that will not be filled. We are not starting the next scheduled Academy class, and probably will cancel the next three classes.

What’s particularly unfortunate about canceling the next 30-member class is that it was to consist of 50% minority recruits. Our Employment Unit had done an excellent job recruiting people who reflect our community and come from diverse backgrounds. We hope they still will want to serve Kansas City when revenues allow them to. We typically have three to four Academy classes per year to keep up with attrition.

The problem with reducing personnel is that it inevitably means service gets reduced. Below is a heat map of where our 911 calls originated in the first half of 2020 (Jan. 1 – June 30). The darker blue areas showed where the most people called police for help. If you’re at all familiar with the socioeconomic make-up of our city, you will see that the most 911 calls come from the most impoverished areas of our city. Reducing police personnel will reduce service to the most economically disadvantaged of our residents. They are the ones who request our help the most, and they are ultimately the ones who potentially will suffer the most from reduced police staffing. (Click to see the map full size.)


Reduced officers on the street will lead to longer response times, an increased workload for those who remain, less personnel to devote to investigations and less time to engage in community policing efforts. And residents won’t just feel reduced staffing on the streets; they’ll feel it on the phone, too. Staffing shortages in our Communications Unit will lead to being put on hold when calling 911. This is an issue we have worked very hard to resolve since I became Chief by increasing Communications Unit staffing. No one should have to be put on hold during a life-or-death emergency.

We will do everything we can to provide the best service possible while working within budgetary constraints. Current fiscal realities mean prioritizing what residents need most and what can be reduced citywide. Those realities should be balanced with the increasing need for public safety in Kansas City.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

KCPD Highlights Service Aspects of Policing



There have been many calls lately to fundamentally shift the way policing is done in America. Several of these demands are about responding to situations of people in crisis without enforcement. I couldn’t agree more, which is why we’ve pioneered programs like dedicated social workers and a Crisis Intervention Team Squad.

As far as I know, we were the first police department in America to employ social workers. For two years now, a social service worker has been assigned to each of our six patrol division stations. Their job is to help in situations that come to the attention of law enforcement but cannot be resolved by police. They’ve helped a family whose home burned down. They’ve helped victims of domestic violence start new lives. They’ve assisted with drug treatment. And ultimately, they’ve gotten residents the resources they need to be successful and reduced the need for law enforcement involvement. In 2019, KCPD social workers assisted more than 1,820 people.

The social workers also have done a great deal with youth in Kansas City. They have helped resolve neighborhood feuds that originated with youth and would have turned violent without the social workers’ intervention. We deployed them to the Country Club Plaza, which was having a problem with unsupervised teenagers gathering and causing violence and property destruction. With surveys, education and a diversion program, the social workers were able to mostly resolve an issue we had spent nearly a decade unsuccessfully trying to enforce our way out of.

In recent weeks, when so many people were out of work during the COVID-19 shut-down, our social workers partnered with community resources to ensure some of the most vulnerable people in our community had food. Their efforts led to 775 people a day being fed for a month. They were unable to carry out their regular duties because of the pandemic, but they saw the needs and created a whole new way to serve.

Law enforcement also has become the default responders to those in mental health and substance abuse crisis. That’s why I thought it was imperative that all patrol officers who weren’t already Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certified undergo mental health awareness training. This covers the CIT basics and responding to someone in crisis.

Several years ago, however, we realized how important it was to have a squad of CIT officers dedicated to serving and following up with members of our community with mental illness who came to the attention of law enforcement. They work hand-in-hand with community mental health liaisons (social workers from mental health treatment providers). In the last year, this squad responded to help 212 people who wanted to die by suicide. With their community mental health liaisons, they made 98 visits to people who needed treatment. They also conducted 132 follow-up visits in addition to that. They made 40 visits to homeless camps to help residents get treatment and housing.

They also conducted extensive mental health awareness and de-escalation training for our KCPD officers and other area law enforcement, as well as community and panel presentations.
Thanks to our CIT squad and social workers, thousands of members of our community got the help they really needed instead of being needlessly thrown into the criminal justice system or having a negative counter with law enforcement.

KCPD has been at the forefront of these alternative responses. I presented about our social worker program at the Major Cities Chiefs Association meeting last fall, where the leaders of several other departments showed interest in implementing something similar.

We are continually evaluating our practices and responses to determine what will best serve our community and keep Kansas City safe. The social workers and CIT Squad are a result of that evaluation. That analysis is not over. We will keep looking for places to improve and enhance our service to Kansas City.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.    

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Seven shootings in nine hours in Kansas City

Shootings and homicides have been increasing steadily lately. As of Monday, May 18, Kansas City, Missouri, has had 204 living shooting victims in 2020 compared to 160 at the same time in 2019. To date, there have been 64 homicides compared to 52 a year ago.

I get asked a lot why this is happening and what can be done to stop it. I wish we had all of those answers. In nine hours from about 8:45 last night to 5:45 this morning, police responded to seven separate shootings. No one has died at this point, but several have life-threatening injuries. I’ve detailed them below to give you a snapshot of what we’ve been dealing with. In most, police were either close enough to hear the shootings when they happened or were there in minutes. Police presence is not deterring those set on committing violent acts.

You might see a few other commonalities in the cases below:

Uncooperative victims – From May 11 to 17, eight out of ten shooting victims refused to cooperate with the investigation and/or refused to press charges. A review of data over a longer period of time shows that two-thirds of Kansas City’s living shooting victims are uncooperative in the investigation. A majority claim they don’t know who shot them or why. Investigation usually shows that’s not true. They either want to retaliate, were involved in illegal activity at the time of the shooting they don’t want to disclose, or fear retaliation. If shooting victims don’t help police stop shooters, the shooters remain in the community and remain readily capable of deadly violence. We know who they are. We know what they’ve done, but we have no way to stop them within the criminal justice system.

Juveniles – Many of the victims and suspects from last night’s shootings were teenagers.


LAST NIGHT’S SHOOTINGS

8:42 p.m., 31st and Van Brunt
Officers were in the area of 31st and Van Brunt and heard the sound of multiple gunshots. An area canvas was conducted, and officers found someone shot in the parking lot of 3011 Van Brunt. Witnesses said there were multiple people exchanging gunfire from the parking lot and a vehicle. An ambulance transported the victim at the scene to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Shortly after the incident, another shooting victim arrived at a different hospital with a gunshot wound. She was listed in stable condition. The suspects range in age from 14-17.

11:40 p.m., Linwood and Kensington
Officers responded to an area hospital after a shooting victim arrived in the emergency room. The victim told officers someone fired shots at him in the area of Linwood and Kensington and then fled the scene in a white sedan. The victim was struck in the shoulder and drove himself to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

12:05 a.m., 500 block of E. 105th St.
Officers were dispatched to a disturbance involving gunfire. They found a 15-year-old victim who said two groups of juveniles had been involved in an altercation in the parking lot. One of the juveniles pulled out a gun and fired a shot in the victim’s direction. She was not hit. The suspect then got into a white Jeep and fled the scene, striking another car and a fence as he left. Fortunately, no one was hurt in this incident.

12:42 a.m., 3600 block of Bales Ave.
Officers went to a drive-by shooting where, miraculously, no one was injured. Police recovered more than 160 shell casings from the scene. Children as young as 2 were in the home. Victims said they didn’t see any suspects. The shell casings were from multiple weapons:

21 spent shell casings of 9 mm ammunition
20 spent shell casings .40 caliber ammunition
19 spent shell casings .300 black out ammunition
79 spent shell casings .223 ammunition
21 spent shell casings .45 + 1 live round ammunition

12:55 a.m., dispatched to hospital
Officers went to an area hospital after a shooting victim arrived in the emergency room. He had a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was rushed into surgery with life threatening injuries. Officers spoke with the person who drove the victim to the hospital. The driver was uncooperative and would not answer any questions. Police are still trying to figure out where the original shooting occurred.

1:44 a.m., officers contacted at hospital
While still at the hospital investigating the above shooting, another shooting victim showed up to the ER with a gunshot wound to the neck. The 18-year-old victim drove himself to the hospital and is listed in stable condition. He was uncooperative and refused to answer questions about how he got shot. Other officers saw the man driving to the hospital and believe his injuries could be connected to several reports of shots fired at a house in south Kansas City, but everyone at the home refused to talk to officers.

5:46 a.m., 1800 Brownell
Officers responded to a call of a man in his 40’s who had been shot while driving a moped. He told officers a few possible locations where he was shot, and officers have preliminarily located a crime scene at the plasma center at 6000 Independence Ave. An ambulance took the victim to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.


What could anyone have done to prevent these shootings, including police?

Unfortunately, nights like last night have not been unusual lately. Our officers, detectives and crime scene investigators capably responded to and investigated these incidents while handling everything else in the city. But we could not predict them.

We are frustrated and trying a number of tactics to reduce the violence. We are, however, just one piece of the criminal justice system. Many parts of that system have been affected by the pandemic. We’re out on the streets when these shootings happen. We’re gathering evidence, investigating and submitting cases for prosecution. But we are only one entity.

Courts, prosecutors, jails, probation and parole – they’re all part of the criminal justice equation. None of those are operating at normal capacity right now, but areas of the system struggled long before COVID-19. To show how other parts of the criminal justice system have an impact, consider this example: two suspects who have been charged with shooting a 5-year-old during a rolling gun battle down Truman Road last month just had their bond reduced from $100,000 cash only to 10%. One thing we do know is that people involved in crime continue to be involved in crime.

I will be sharing some of the new violent crime prevention initiatives we’re undertaking next week. As you can see, however, we need the assistance of victims, witnesses, and the whole community to make progress against violent crime. We live here, too, and so do our families. We want a safer Kansas City. We want a quiet night for all of our neighborhoods. We can’t do that alone. 


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org    

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

As support pours in for police, officers are uplifted

We often see the best of humanity in the worst of times. The support of people throughout the Kansas City Metro area when an officer was killed in the line of duty at one of our neighboring agencies last week has been so touching and humbling. Hundreds of police cars, including many from KCPD, went to honor Overland Park, Kansas, Officer Mike Mosher on May 10, with a lengthy Salute to Blue procession in Overland Park. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, was lit up blue that night, too.

Both were sights to behold. People lined the route of the Salute to Blue procession Sunday saluting, waving flags and even kneeling. The support for law enforcement was overwhelming. 

Top right and bottom left photos courtesy Overland Park Police Department.

This week, May 10-16, is National Police Week. It began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week to honor officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Officer Mosher paid the ultimate sacrifice, and I am so humbled by the respect the community has shown for him and law enforcement.

No one becomes a police officer planning to die in service to their community, but we do all know it is a possibility. The show of support for law enforcement lately demonstrates the high esteem in which the vast majority of Kansas City metro residents hold police for being willing to make that sacrifice. We don’t often see news stories about that support.

We at KCPD began feeling a tangible increase in community support at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have since received donations from hundreds of organizations, individuals and businesses ranging from food to masks to thermometers. The community realized that pandemic or no pandemic, KCPD would be on the front lines every day and night to serve and protect, even with the risk to officers’ own health and safety. They have repeatedly thanked us for that dedication, and we are humbled by their support. Many didn’t even want their name mentioned. They just felt in their hearts that supporting police was the right thing to do. To know that our work is appreciated means the world to officers in a time when the world has been turned upside down, and we lost one of our brothers across the State Line who was doing the same job we do.

Some people don’t like and/or distrust police. Yes, police have made mistakes and we are constantly evaluating our programs and training to better connect with our community. Police remain one of the most trusted professions in America, however. In Kansas City, at least, we are doing as much as we possibly can to earn your trust and support.

For those who have already shown your support, thank you. Words aren’t enough to express the difference that makes in a job that often feels thankless. I know for a fact members of the KCPD have been surprised but very appreciative of the outpouring of support.

May 21 would have been our police memorial service at KCPD Headquarters. For everyone’s health and safety, we are moving that service online this year. We will share a special video tribute that day to the 119 KCPD officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice throughout our agency’s 146-year history. Keep an eye out for it here, on our social media and on our web site, and help us honor those who have gone before us in service to their city.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, May 8, 2020

Technology helps police "bust" felony suspects

We’re six months into an initiative that is bringing residents and police together to solve crimes, and it’s working just like we’d hoped.

We launched the Busted page on our web site in November 2019. This web page features suspects who have been caught on camera committing felony crimes, everything from burglaries to shootings. Previously, these pictures and video had only been circulated internally at KCPD or with other area law enforcement. Detectives are now sharing them with the public to get as many as eyes as possible to identify suspects and close cases. With the proliferation of security cameras, many more cases now feature video and photos as pieces of evidence.

All cases are felony-level, and therefore eligible for rewards through the TIPS Hotline. Each Busted case features a link to the online, anonymous TIPS submission form. Tips leading to an arrest will be eligible for anonymous cash rewards. Each case is featured on the Busted page for 30 days.

We’ve had some really good success with Busted. It’s hard to put a number on crimes it’s solved, because often identifying a suspect is just the beginning of an investigation. Anecdotally, about 20 to 25% of the cases featured on Busted result in a suspect getting identified. I’ll share a few success stories with you:

Within days of us launching Busted, a tip helped detectives pin down an identify thief who had used someone else’s identity to fraudulently purchase vehicles. 



Charges were recently filed in a case in which two men assaulted and stole money from a victim who had just withdrawn it from an ATM at a convenience store. A tipster who saw it on Busted helped identify a suspect who was wearing a not-so-subtle pink “Golden Girls” shirt.



Busted also has helped us identify felony-level shoplifters ...



 burglars ...


and even shooters in aggravated assaults ... 



Cases are added regularly, so I encourage you to check back on the page often.

Busted is one of several initiatives we’ve embarked on to more directly involved Kansas Citians in solving crime. Another is our WatchKC program, in which residents can let us know they have security cameras so we can contact them in an event there is a crime in their neighborhood with which video evidence could help.

As technology expands, we look forward to offering more of these crime-fighting partnership opportunities with you in the future. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, April 27, 2020

Study shows crime prevention tool decreased violent crime 24% in project areas




We implemented an innovative crime-fighting strategy one year ago, and it has reduced violent crime in our project areas by 24 percent, according to a new analysis by Rutgers University.

We worked with criminal justice scholars from Rutgers to implement an evidence-based strategy that helps determine where crime or other problems are most likely to occur: Risk-Based Policing (RBP). RBP is a crime prevention and reduction tool that builds on the analytical technique Risk Terrain Modeling to look not at where crime has already occurred but features of the physical environment that will cause crime. A key aspect of RBP is it focuses on places, not people. It also does not take into account historical crime or arrest data, making it different from previous hot spot policing efforts. RBP overlays a number of geographic data to show police (and their partners!) where a crime problem is most likely to emerge, allowing preventive measures to be taken in that area. Known as “risk factors,” examples include liquor and convenience stores, vacant properties, properties with code violations, parks, bus stops, and many more. They may be completely innocuous on their own, but the risk of crime can increase dramatically if many are in the same general vicinity.

RBP gave us an idea of areas in the city at highest risk for violent crime. Seeing these areas of concentrated risk areas allow police, city government, and other partners to martial resources to address issues. For example, police can perform liquor license checks at businesses selling alcohol in high-risk areas and request follow-up from Regulated Industries. Police can also share advice and recommendations to property owners about how to reduce risk of crime through means such as better lighting or security cameras. In addition, KCPD members share RBP data with municipal departments to help enforce code violations or fix broken streetlights. This helps everyone share the burden of true public safety when compared to traditional enforcement-focused measures. In turn, RBP ultimately results in a more holistic service to the public.

Using objective RBP data as a guide, KCPD devoted resources to some of the highest-risk areas in the city. The recent analysis from Rutgers compares the year before we implemented RBP – March 15, 2018 to March 14, 2019 – to the year since – March 15, 2019 to March 14, 2020. It also looked at control areas with similar levels of environmental risk that did not receive the specific tasks based on the RBP concept. Note, this does not mean the KCPD did not provide police service or other necessary responses in these areas.

The RBP strategy focused on violent street crime (homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies) in our four patrol divisions south of the Missouri River – Central, East, Metro, and South – because they have the highest incidence of these violent crimes.

Researchers found violent street crime decreased 24% overall when looking at all focus areas. In more practical terms, this means Kansas City had 165 fewer violent crime victims in the areas where RBP was used in just one year. The control areas saw only a combined 1% reduction in violent crime. These findings are also statistically significant, meaning we can have confidence the reductions are due to our efforts as opposed to random chance.

Here are the results for violent street crime in each of the four divisions:

· Central: 43% decrease
· East: 25% decrease
· Metro: 9% decrease
· South: 21% decrease (although to be fair, unlike Central, East, and Metro, researchers found much of the violent crime here was displaced nearby)

One of the best features of RBP is how customizable it is to different areas of the city. For example, laundromats were a prominent risk factor in Metro Patrol but not Central Patrol. RBP therefore provides insight to each patrol division about the most significant environmental risk factors in their communities so they can address them accordingly. This can include options such as asking the City’s Neighborhood Preservation division to assist with problem properties or even social service outreach.

Legal scholars such as Andrew Ferguson, an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, have also shown support for this approach because it helps strip away potential person-based bias given the focus on environmental risk. RBP is a civilly just way to deploy public resources, including those from the police.

In addition, the KCPD was able to achieve these impressive results with virtually no added cost. There was no overtime required, no grant funding needed, nor specialized squads to create. Instead, we were able to see meaningful crime reduction using our current resources in more strategic, focused ways.

This also has led to us building a fantastic new partnership with Rutgers University. We so appreciate their attention and expertise in helping us make our city safer.

We obviously still have a lot of work to do and are already planning ways to evolve the strategy and build on these early successes. We are beginning internal discussions about expanding on the areas where we are currently deploying RBP, as well as seeking opportunities to bring more resources from external partners to the table.

In the meantime, we now have quantifiable evidence Risk-Based Policing is a viable tool in reducing violent crime here in Kansas City. We are always looking at innovative ways to reduce crime and improve quality of life here at the KCPD, and RBP is proving to be a step in the right direction.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, April 13, 2020

Police remain busy in Kansas City despite stay-at-home order

We’ve received a lot of inquiries about how all the changes in our society to stop the spread of the coronavirus are impacting crime in Kansas City. Other cities have seen crime fall across the board, but in Kansas City, it has been mixed.

First, I’d like to thank everyone in Kansas City who have been adhering to the stay-at-home order. We’re finding that the vast majority of people are abiding by it, which should help us flatten the curve and defeat this pandemic more quickly. It’s also helping keep us – your first responders – healthy and able to serve.

We need officers out on the street because violent crime here has not changed much with social distancing measures or the stay-at-home order. In the two weeks before the stay-at-home order, March 10-13, we had six homicides. We’ve had seven homicides in the two weeks since, March 24-April 6. Aggravated assaults increased from 61 in the two weeks before the order to 68 in the two weeks after the order.

As many expected, domestic violence assaults have increased a bit. If you are in an unsafe situation at home, please call 816-HOTLINE, which will connect you to domestic violence advocates in the Kansas City area. Domestic violence shelters and prevention agencies are still operating and providing services.

Below is a chart showing some major categories of violent crime in Kansas City so far this year and how the numbers have changed as COVID-19 spread and residents started staying home.




By contrast, many of our property crimes have fallen off. We attribute this to more people at home keeping an eye on their belongings all day. We’ve seen the largest decreases in crime in the categories of thefts from vehicles, stolen cars and shoplifting (mainly because most retailers are closed). Here is the chart showing our property crime trends for the first three months of 2020:


Overall, our calls for service have seen little change. Below are March numbers from last year compared to this year:  


March 2019
March 2020
Difference
Calls received
78,399
77,128
-2%


The main goal of police is to keep you safe, which is why were are focusing our traffic enforcement efforts on reducing the excessive speed that has arisen with fewer cars on the road. Traffic officers are saying speeds are much higher than normal. They issued some of the following tickets last week:

* 123 mph in a 65 at 435/Wornall
* 79 in a 35 on Independence Ave.
* 76 in a 45 on Chouteau Bridge
* 133 in a 55 on I-29/Waukomis
* 86 in a 55 on 71 Hwy/31st St.

Again, this is why you'll still see us enforcing speed limits. From March 16-30, our injury crashes were up by 43% compared to the same time period last year. Officers are doing everything possible to reduce contact on these stops and are sanitizing before and after each one, as well as wearing masks.

I have no doubt this pandemic will continue to reshape our city in the short and long term, but looking at the numbers, the workload of police in Kansas City has remained pretty consistent. No matter what happens, KCPD will continue to respond to community needs. 


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Working together to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep first responders healthy

Everybody is feeling the effects of the social distancing efforts needed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. For the next two to four weeks (or however long health officials recommend), we all have to make personal sacrifices for the good of the whole. Maybe you’re not at great risk for serious effects of the virus, but I bet you have a loved one who is. What would you do to protect that loved one? Now is the time to think about what you can do for others, not just how it may affect you. We all need to act in that manner to protect everybody else’s loved ones.

We all have to work together to stop the spread so our healthcare system has room to treat the sickest patients. This teamwork is not unlike what we all must do to stop violent crime in our community. With a little bit of prevention, we could all really change the course of a pandemic. Kansas City has a strong history of coming together to handle all types of situations: from deployment and food rationing during World Wars, to acts of mother nature that have torn our city apart, we come together to accomplish what is necessary. Our calling now is to stop the spread of this virus while taking care of those who get ill. As of today, health officials are urging us to refrain from gatherings with 10 or more people.

Of course, we have to look out for the well-being of our own employees, as well. Police and other first responders must remain as healthy as possible and available to serve our community. In the future, we may need to make adjustments in our deployment or methods of gathering report information, but rest assured that any priority in this city will be handled.

This situation has been taxing on all of us. The police department has had to make decisions that frankly have not been considered during my 32 years of service. This police department has worked tirelessly to build relationships in this city and to suspend activities that go to our core mission in building these relationships come with much thought, and frankly it is extremely difficult to suspend activities that we cherish. So far, we have:

- Suspended all community events and meetings in police facilities, from free tax preparation to neighborhood meetings to the Citizens Police Academy.
- Canceled ride-alongs.
- Encouraged officers to practice good hygiene, not shake hands and meet in open areas and/or on porches if possible.

If you have possible COVID-19 symptoms and need to call for help, please advise 911 call-takers of your illness so first responders can be prepared when coming into contact with you.

Please look for updates here, on our web site and our social media, which is where we will notify you of any practices we are changing to keep our workforce healthy and ready to help Kansas City get through whatever happens in these unprecedented times. When we all work together, we are safer and stronger.

Send comments to: kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

To curb violence, more officers are needed

If you’re the leader of a police department in a city that’s ranked the fifth-most violent in the nation, where would your budget discussion start?

It’s budget time again in Kansas City, and as our budget comprises nearly 38% of the City’s general fund, there has understandably been a lot of discussion about it, and there should be. Board of Police Commissioners President Nathan Garrett stated at last week’s Board meeting that KCPD needs more officers than the ten additional officer positions currently in the City’s proposed budget.

The Kansas City Star published an editorial Monday stating KCPD does not need 65 more police officers, which is a number Commissioner Garrett cited at the meeting. That would bring us up to 1,400 total officer positions. After Kansas City’s 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then-Mayor Ilus Davis convened a Commission on Civil Disorder. The report recommended in August 1968 that KCPD should have 1,500 officers. That was more than 50 years ago, and we have never met that goal.

This department has made many efforts to enhance relationships with the community, but with our current staffing, officers are primarily limited to responding to 911 calls. This limits proactive and community policing.  

The Star editorial points out that Kansas City has more officers per 10,000 people than cities like San Francisco, Tampa or Dallas. Those cities also have remarkably less violent crime. In 2019, Kansas City’s homicide rate per 100,000 was 30.1. That means for every 100,000 residents of our city, 30.1 were murdered. That rate was 4.6 for San Francisco, 6.9 for Tampa and 15.5 for Dallas. Only one of those cities barely reaches half our homicide rate. So to have a budget discussion of the number of officers we need solely based on what works per capita in other cities is an insult to the victims of violent crime in our community.

The Star editorial’s concern over our request for additional officers is it would negatively impact the City’s overall budget. The Police Department isn’t looking to take money from all other City services. We are a partner whose job is to secure the safety of the City. If the City is unsafe, people won’t want to live, work or visit here, and that would hurt everyone.

Commissioner Garrett pointed out that it’s our job and responsibility to put forth a budget request for what we think appropriately meets the needs of this city. In fact, Commissioner Garrett pointed out several things in response to the Editorial Board’s questions days prior to its publication, which I’ve included here:

Editorial Board Question: As you know, the proposed budget calls for spending 38% of the general fund on police, almost twice the level required by state law. Do you believe there should be any limit on how much money taxpayers should spend on the department? Are there any ways the department might find savings in its own spending to provide funding for additional officers?

Nathan Garrett’s Answer:  We really don’t think of it in terms of measuring our proposal against the overall budget (percentage wise) when we make our ask; though I recognize, of course, that there’s a natural, process-oriented limit to how much of the City’s revenue our services can consume. Our responsibility is to identify critical needs we believe translate into more effective and responsible police services for our community. How that translates vis-√†-vis the overall City budget is what it is; though, again, we have the overall budget in mind when we engage in the process and fully recognize the balance of the City’s obligations. We’re a team player, but our job is to fight for the law enforcement needs of this City; it’s the job of others to balance those needs against other services and responsibilities. As for finding internal savings, we’re constantly engaged in that process and recognize our role in responsibly managing the resources we’re given. To this end, we also aggressively pursue grant funding and other community-oriented sources of revenue in an effort to augment the ask we make on the City. Chief among these contributors is the Police Foundation, which has been a stalwart in providing supplemental funding to our Department. These outside sources of revenue reduce the ask on the City and are something we feel a responsibility to pursue—and are eternally grateful for the response received. Lastly, we’ve made some very difficult, less-than-popular decisions within the Department to address enforcement priorities. Dismantling Mounted Patrol might have been the most vocally controversial thing we’ve done, but we felt it was the right thing to do in light of the alarming rise in gun violence. Those positions, as you know, were allocated to our homicide division. Likewise, we made other internal personnel maneuvers—following our audit review process—that allowed us to increase our assault squads (non-fatal shootings) by 12 detectives. While we’re always taking from something to give to something in these situations, that’s the recurring responsibility we have—make certain our resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner to address the most critical needs of our City.   

Editorial Board Question: Should the police board be more active in making those spending choices, since it controls the department, not the City Council?

Nathan Garrett’s Answer: The Board is always involved in this process, and our conversations with the Chief and his staff are near daily. The monthly Board meetings constitute a fraction of the time dedicated to the operations of this Department—fiscally and otherwise. And while it is not the Board’s job to micro-manage the daily spending of our resources, those expenditures are naturally related to our operational priorities and initiatives—something we are heavily engaged in. So, yes, we should be involved in our spending choices at a macro level and continue to ensure we have the right staff with the right directions in place to carry out the more daily, micro-oriented decisions.

Editorial Board Question: If there is additional information you wish to provide, please do so. 

Nathan Garrett’s Answer: We are admittedly a large bureaucracy, and as such, our efficiencies are not at a level of satisfaction for any of us—especially those of us in the private sector. We can and should continue to aggressively police ourselves and do our level best—even in the face of labor, legal and bureaucratic challenges—to make the best, most efficient use of our resources focused directly and most intently on the safety of our community.


This police department takes financial responsibility very seriously. We’re not looking to take over the city. We’re trying to find ways to address the violent crime issue in a way that is both reasonable and effective. Adding police officers is one of the only proven ways to do so that is within our control. This is discussed in the book Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt.


We firmly believe more officers can help. The number of officers needed obviously is up for discussion, but to base that solely on per capita numbers and dollars is short-sighted and wrong.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Lessons from a big celebration: beware of thieves


The day of the Chiefs victory parade was an amazing day, and we learned a lot from everything that happened that day. We’d like to pass along some of those lessons learned to you. The parade and rally showed us the need for folks attending large events to always be vigilant. Did you know 16 people reported that they got pick-pocketed during the event? Most of them were around the rally at Union Station.

One wallet, five cell phone-wallet combos and 10 other cell phones were stolen. Most of these items were taken from parade-goers’ back pant pockets or coat pockets. Many of the victims reported that they felt someone touch them, but it was crowded, and they didn’t see anyone stealing anything. The stolen phones are long gone. We’ve pinged some of them in Maryland, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

There also were 12 cars broken into during the time of the celebration – with eight of them in the area of 19th to 22nd Streets, Paseo to Holmes. That’s where several rally-goers parked.

Criminals are opportunists. They see a large gathering of distracted people as the perfect chance to make off with some valuable property. And while Kansas City might not host such a large-scale event until next year (fingers crossed!), we have still have several sizeable gatherings coming up soon such as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Kansas City loves to host events like this, but we need everyone attending to do their part to make them safe and successful. Make yourself and your property unappealing to thieves. Keep your phone and wallet on your person where you can see them. Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. Don’t leave your vehicle running unattended. Doing those things could prevent crimes not just at big events but would eliminate thousands of crimes in our city year-round.

The weather will soon be getting warmer, which means more and more people will be heading out to the fun gatherings and events that make Kansas City such a great place to live. You won’t be able to enjoy those outings, however, if you come home to stolen property, so take a minute before you go to ensure all your things are secure.

Send comments to: kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, February 3, 2020

We've got all hands on deck for the Chiefs victory parade!

Like everyone else in Kansas City, we are elated about the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory! We have been preparing for this possibility for quite a while and are ready to host what is likely to be the biggest celebration this city has seen since the Royals World Series win in 2015.

The victory parade is an all-hands-on-deck event for KCPD. Additionally, law enforcement agencies from around the metro area have dedicated some of their limited manpower (and womanpower!) to assist us that day. All of us at KCPD are very grateful for their assistance, and it shows what a truly cohesive metro area we have and how well we work together. This is a regional event, and it will be handled with regional resources. There will be hundreds upon hundreds of officers along the parade route and at the celebration at Union Station afterward to ensure everyone has a great time while staying safe. This will not detract from officers working the rest of the city. We are not taking away from our regular patrol division staffing allocation. Instead, we are bringing in everyone from investigative units to Academy recruits to help on the streets that day, as well as the aforementioned outside agencies.

Just as police will have to be flexible that day, so will those who will take part in the festivities. We are expecting hundreds of thousands of people to descend on a very limited area in downtown Kansas City. If you plan to attend, expect very heavy congestion, big traffic delays and huge crowds. Pack your patience. There is only so much police can do to move that many cars and people along. In a large crowd, items and people (especially children) are bound to get lost or separated. We will do everything we can to reunite people and return property to its rightful owners, but please help us by keeping a close eye on your children and keep your property secured.

Additionally, it’s February in Kansas City, so the forecast for the parade calls for cold temperatures. Please dress accordingly. As always, public alcohol consumption also is prohibited.

We can’t wait to celebrate this historic day with you, Kansas City. Thank you for your assistance, and thank you to the Kansas City Chiefs for making this momentous day possible in our community!

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Friday, January 31, 2020

We're ready to help you safely enjoy watching the Chiefs in the Super Bowl



We’re experiencing an incredible moment here in Kansas City, and your police department has been working hard to ensure everyone can have a great time watching the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

KCPD will be fully staffed citywide on Sunday evening, and we’re bringing in an additional 100 officers from units such as Tactical Enforcement and Traffic Enforcement. These additional officers will keep an eye on the city’s entertainment districts, but their assignment is to remain fluid and assist wherever needed.

Speaking of entertainment districts, all of them have shared their security plans with us, which include off-duty KCPD officers who will be assisting with security in those areas. Additional dispatch staff have been assigned specifically to handle calls related to game celebrations.

We’ve made extensive preparations to facilitate people having fun on this historic day for our city. Officers are ready for celebratory honking, yelling, high fives and more. We all have seen things go wrong in other cities that were supposed to be celebrating a championship, and no one wants that here, especially not celebratory gunfire. If you see something that looks like it’s starting to get out of control, please call us so it doesn’t grow into something really bad.

If the Chiefs win, more information about forthcoming celebrations will be posted early next week. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to helping everyone enjoy the game in the home of the Chiefs: Kansas City, Missouri.


Send comments to: kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, January 17, 2020

We're making changes to address homicides and non-fatal shootings


While so much of our other crime is trending downward, shootings and homicides remain a persistent issue in our city. Although police are by no means solely responsible for the increase or decrease in these crimes, we are obligated to do everything in our power to address them and bring offenders to justice.

We also know we can’t work in a vacuum. It takes partnerships across the city and an evaluation of best practices nationwide to make the systemic changes needed to impact our stubborn violent crime rate. In 2019, Kansas City had 148 homicides and 491 non-fatal shootings.

A focus on prolific violent offenders

One of the places where you can see that change is happening is with the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA.  KC NoVA has been and continues to be about focused deterrence, but after extensive evaluation, KC NoVA switched its enforcement strategy last year 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 their 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. All of those partners remain at the table with us, and they are integral in reducing the gun-related crimes that plague Kansas City. We work together now more than ever.

But homicides and non-fatal shootings 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.

Reviewing non-fatal shootings

The Public Safety Partnership also introduced us to a best practice from police in our peer city of Milwaukee. As of January 8, we are now conducting weekly shooting review meetings. These cover all homicides and non-fatal shootings that took place in the past week and follow up on case progress from previous weeks. Again, this is driven by partnerships with state and federal prosecutors and Missouri Probation and Parole. All of the partners attend the meetings with our investigative and patrol elements to ensure each case is investigated to the best of its ability.

This new meeting of criminal justice partners emphasizes accountability: each of the partners – including KCPD – is holding each other responsible for effectively carrying out their role in the criminal justice process. This is a great improvement in communication and accountability through the whole system.

Adding investigative resources

With the dawn of the New Year, we have doubled the number of detectives assigned to work non-fatal shooting cases. All too often, many of the victims and suspects in these incidents later become victims or suspects in homicides. With 491 non-fatal shootings last year (a 9% increase from 2018), we have doubled the number of detectives in our Assault Squads from 12 to 24. They are charged with investigating cases in which someone is assaulted with a weapon but survives. 

We also have added eight homicide detectives, bringing the total number to 32.

These shifts have led to us moving resources from other places, like Mounted Patrol. That decision wasn’t popular, but it is needed to focus resources on stopping the perpetrators of gun violence in our city.


Ultimately, police can’t be there every time someone decides to resolve an argument with a gun. If you know someone who is planning violence, please let us know. We are making changes, however, to identify those most involved with gun violence, work their case to the fullest extent and ensure accountability with the help of our partners in the criminal justice system and the community.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A look back at the good things in 2019

As police officers, we’re in the business of being there when bad things happen. Therefore, we often become the topic of bad things in discussions. It’s hard for people who are always responding to horrific acts – like our city’s despicable homicide rate – to come up in the same conversation as really great things that happen in our community. As we reflect on 2019, however, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the good things in which our department has gotten to be involved.

Social workers
Our social workers continue to make a tremendous impact on the lives of people throughout Kansas City. This was the first full year we’ve had one at all six patrol divisions. Their job is to help in situations that come to the attention of law enforcement but cannot be resolved by police. They’ve helped a family whose home burned down. They’ve helped victims of domestic violence start new lives. And ultimately, they’ve gotten residents the resources they need to be successful and reduced the need for law enforcement involvement. As of Dec. 3, KCPD social workers have assisted 1,815 people and attended 488 community outreach events in 2019.

Community Interaction Officers
Our 12 Community Interaction Officers (CIOs) – two at each patrol division station – have worked tirelessly to build relationships with residents and make neighborhoods safer. They’ve provided block-watch training for countless neighborhoods to empower residents in keeping their communities safe. The CIOs work with business owners to implement security measures and address concerns. They’ve worked hand-in-hand with social workers to address issues of repeated calls for service to particular addresses and in finding help for families in need.

They have organized countless free community events from family movie nights to job fairs for ex-offenders to health and safety fairs to Christmas parties for deserving youth. Our Kansas City United Against Crime events coordinated by CIOs in the first weekend of October brought communities together to play, learn and get to know one another. Our Halloween events – undertaken with business, church and non-profit partners – gave thousands of children a safe place to go on Halloween. All of these things also built lasting relationships between children, their families and KCPD.

Youth programs
One of the biggest ways we can impact the future safety of our city is through building trust and understanding with youth. I’ve previously written about Teens in Transition, the Police Athletic League and many other things we do to facilitate those relationships. We expanded the Police Athletic League last year to include PAL Nights - a structured and fun environment for urban-core youth on weekend nights in the spring and summer. This offers a safe place for kids to socialize and enjoy themselves while getting to know officers in a relaxed setting. 


I wanted to highlight a few of our other youth initiatives here:

Youth Police Initiative – Our Youth Police Initiative began in 2018, and an academic review of the program in 2019 shows what an impact it’s making. The program’s goal is to bring at-risk youth together with police officers to share personal stories, meals and to let their guards down long enough to have difficult and honest discussions that will create relationships and understanding for both the youth and officers. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice surveyed the 45 participants in our Youth Police Initiative at the beginning and the end of their week in the program. Over the course of that week, the teens who said, “I know at least one police officer who I can trust” went up by 181%. You can read more about it in our February 2019 Informant newsletter.

Youth Police Academy – This week-long version of the Citizens Police Academy for middle schoolers had more than 150 participants from throughout the City. They did everything from dust for fingerprints to learn conflict resolution.

Catching Fury – This camp was designed by women on our department and at neighboring police and fire departments to encourage young women ages 13 to 17 to pursue careers in public safety in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America. More is on p. 3 of our June Informant newsletter.

Explorers – We’ve recently restarted our Police Explorer Program in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America. This program is for youth ages 14-20 to introduce them to all aspects of our department so that they might consider careers here. Explorers also volunteer with KCPD and will be issued uniforms and radios.

School Resource Officers – We have School Resource Officers (SROs) serving at several high schools in the Kansas City Public School District. They are there in an official capacity to help with security and enforce any laws as needed, but what they really do is serve as mentors. For many of the kids in those schools, the SROs are one of the few people in their lives who offer stability. Many students confide in the SROs, and the SROs have been known to take teens having a hard time under their wings. I would love to be able to expand our SRO program. 


DARE - We have DARE officers in nearly every elementary school in this city - parochial, public and charter - north and south of the River. We believe getting officers in contact with children at a young age teaches them that police are trustworthy and there to help. I regularly hear rave reviews from teachers about the impact our DARE officers have on children in the schools they serve.

Badges for Basics
Our Badges for Basics program is solving crime and building trust with toilet paper and shampoo. This collaboration with the non-profit, Giving the Basics, provides hygiene products to members of our community who have difficulty affording them. Our officers go to high-crime and low-income areas to hand out these products so residents can have dignity. The Badges for Basics partnership earned the Excellence in Collaboration honor from NonProfit Connect’s Philanthropy Awards in May and has been featured in multiple national publications. From March 21 through today, Badges for Basics has given out nearly 30,000 hygiene products.

Holiday help
Just two weeks ago, we partnered with Hy-Vee and Harvesters to provide 500 free Christmas dinners to needy families. On Dec. 23, we worked with Hy-Vee again to deliver catered meals to four deserving families identified by our social workers. Many Christmas gifts were delivered that day, as well. I couldn’t possibly count how much money our members spend out of their own pockets to make the holidays brighter for so many families in our community. It’s not just during the holidays, either. I’d be willing to bet every officer on this department has bought a Happy Meal for a child in a tough situation.

Assisting sexual assault victims
One of our crime scene technicians went viral with her idea to provide new sheets and bedding to victims of sexual assault. CSI usually has to take these items to process for physical evidence, and it often is the only bedding the victim has. When our CSI tech asked for donations of new sheets to provide to victims, the request went viral on our Facebook page in 2018. It recirculated again this year, and we received so many packages of new sheets and bedding in 2019 (from Kansas City and around the world) that we ran out of room to store them and distributed them to neighboring agencies.


Many of the things outlined here are not short-term fixes to problems like violent crime or mistrust of law enforcement. They are means to meeting long-term goals of a safer city for everyone and a trusting relationship between KCPD and the community. We are in it for the long haul. Fixing the problems of violence and mistrust takes long, hard work, and we are committed to that.

We may not be able to convince every last person that we are here for good, but for the 32 years I’ve been here, this police department has been working tirelessly to build as much trust as we possibly can. I think that sets us apart from other cities where a trusting relationship with the community isn’t such a priority for law enforcement. That trust is a very big deal to me and the members of the KCPD, and we will work toward it with every Trunk-or-Treat, social worker visit and 911 response we can.

You may have noticed that many of the good things we got to be a part of in 2019 were the result of partnerships with individuals, non-profits, faith communities and businesses. These are people who care deeply about their city and want good things for it. They help pay for the projector at movie nights, holiday meals at Christmas and Halloween candy for children. They transport beds for our social workers to give to families who don’t have one. They give us hygiene products to help those who need them for dignity. They are the unsung heroes of Kansas City.

What I’ve outlined here are just a very few of the good things we got to be part of in 2019. Yes, we will always be there when the bad things happen, but we look forward to being part of more and more good, as well.


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