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.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

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.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org 

Friday, November 22, 2019

KCPD's unique governance model serves Kansas City well

The people of Kansas City have a police department they should be very proud of, and many are. We’ve innovated in the areas of social workers and community outreach through additional Community Interaction Officers. We professionally handle dozens of large events every year, from the airshow to the Plaza Lighting Ceremony. We are the largest law enforcement agency in six states and are often looked to as leaders in the Midwest and nationally. This police department strives to make Kansas City a great place for everyone to live, work and play. A well-functioning police department doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because of a group of dedicated men and women who have served on the Kansas City Missouri Board of Police Commissioners through the years. They have invested the time and effort to make sure this city has a police department that is a national model.

Many residents may not even recognize this. What they will recognize is the work ethic, professionalism and dedication that the men and women of the KCPD give every day under the oversight of the Board of Police Commissioners.

As it does every few years, the question of “local control” of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department has resurfaced. The KCPD is governed by a Board of Police Commissioners appointed by the Governor of Missouri and confirmed by the State Senate. They all are residents of Kansas City, Mo. The elected mayor of Kansas City also has a seat on the Board. That’s why the issue at hand isn’t really “local control” but local political control. The Kansas City Council funds the Department, according to state statute. We have operated this way since 1939, when rampant corruption caused the state to take control of the department.

Many say that model is outdated. We believe, however, that it has served the people of Kansas City well for 80 years and will continue to do so. When I attend national conferences, I am pleased to hear about the reputation of the KCPD among other agencies. We are known nationwide as leaders in everything from data-led policing to de-escalation training to social services. We have not experienced the strained community relationships or large-scale scandals other major-city departments have. That’s not by accident. Maybe it’s because of the members of our community who sit on our oversight board.

Under our current governance model, we are agile and adaptable. We can focus resources where they are needed most without being slowed by politics or bureaucracy. We can quickly respond to the needs of neighborhoods and businesses because we aren’t beholden to any particular elected official.

That is not to say that we are not responsive to City Hall. We have a commander assigned full-time to work with city staff and council members. We work together closely to address crime issues in our city. A great example of this is the money the City allocated to boost the reward money for homicide tips leading to an arrest to $25,000 through the Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline.

State statute mandates that the City allocate at least 20% of its general fund to the police department. For many years, the City has provided more than 20%, and for that, we and the residents of Kansas City should be grateful. We also have consolidated many functions with city staff, most recently information technology. Our great working relationship results in a prudent use of taxpayer dollars for public safety.

The most common argument I hear against our governance model is that we are the only one in the nation who has it. Being unique is not a negative thing. Perhaps we should be seen as the leader after which other agencies should model themselves. Look out a little farther, however, and you’ll see that we’re not that different. The majority of municipal Canadian police departments are overseen by civilian boards of police commissioners, just like KCPD’s. Police are governed this way in most major Canadian cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa.

I also hear that our unique system of governance must somehow be the source of the stubborn homicide rate in our city. The other nine cities on the list of the nation’s 10 Most Dangerous Cities have local political control, and that has done nothing to abate the violence in their communities. Many of those cities also have experienced unrest that we haven’t.

We have a Board of Police Commissioners who can focus entirely upon governing the police department. City Councilmembers have many other important functions to oversee, from the airport to street maintenance to sewers. We are fortunate to have an oversight board in which our department is their sole priority. They can review policies and procedures at length. They also are open to public input and have requested it on many occasions, like during the last selection process for Chief of Police. Every month, the Board meets to publicly go over the department’s finances, policies and other items, as well as take comments from the community. You would be hard-pressed to find another City department that gets this level of public scrutiny on a monthly basis.

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s form of governance is unique, but that should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. It has allowed our department to function professionally, transparently and respectably for 80 years and hopefully for many more to come. For these reasons and many more, the people of Kansas City should champion the department’s current governance model.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, October 11, 2019

Study finds police are one of the most trusted groups in America


A recent study from Pew Research Center indicates that police officers are one of the most trusted authorities in America, ranking just below public school principals and ahead of the six other groups discussed in the survey, including religious leaders and journalists. Members of Congress ranked at the bottom of the list.

I think this study contradicts the national narrative that mistrust of the police is raging nationwide. The silent majority of Americans support law enforcement. According to the study, “Police officers also are viewed in a positive light by the U.S. public. More than eight-in-ten (84%) U.S. adults say police officers protect people from crime ‘all or most’ or ‘some of the time.’ Three-quarters or more also say that police officers care about people (79%), responsibly handle the resources available to them (79%) and provide fair and accurate information to the public (74%) at least some of the time.

For several years now, we have seen story after story about how confidence in law enforcement has fallen off or that trust is at an all-time low. According to the Pew study, that is not the case. The stories also say no one would want to be a police officer in times of such mistrust. That hasn’t been our experience, either. We have had a wonderful response to our recruitment efforts and get about a thousand applications for the position of police officer each year. This is a noble profession, and I am grateful that so many people want to pursue it with our agency.

This is not to say we don’t have work to do. The study also pointed out, “Opinions about police officers differ widely by racial and ethnic group, with white people holding more positive opinions about police officers than black people and Hispanics do. … Roughly seven-in-ten white Americans (72%) say police officers treat racial and ethnic groups equally at least some of the time. By way of comparison, half of Hispanics and just 33% of black adults say the same.”

This divide shows where we have work to do, and it’s something we are working tirelessly with the community to address. I believe this starts with our young people, which is why programs like the Youth Police Initiative, Teens in Transition, the KC Police Athletic League (PAL) and more are so important in building trust. Another important piece in bridging that gap is the Office of Community Complaints, which has a national reputation as a premier civilian oversight board that residents can turn to when they feel police aren’t acting in their best interest. Reflecting our community in our staffing remains an ongoing challenge, and one we will continue to pursue.

A community depends on its law enforcement and its trust of that law enforcement. I’m pleased that the Pew Center study showed police are one of the most trusted groups in America, and we have been blessed by all the support we have received and continue to receive in Kansas City. Residents and KCPD members alike want a trustworthy police department we can all be proud of.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Marijuana's impact on public safety needs to be part of the conversation


Most people don’t realize the connection marijuana has to violent crime in Kansas City. On Sept. 10, two men were murdered in their apartment in south Kansas City. A dog was shot and killed, too. The men were known to sell marijuana, and evidence at the homicide scene confirmed that. Investigation has revealed the marijuana dealing was likely the motive of their homicides. So far this year, 10 of our homicides have been directly motivated by marijuana. The non-fatal shootings are even greater. Most of these marijuana-related shootings start as robberies of marijuana or the money connected to it.

The common argument is that this violence would cease if marijuana were simply legalized. The data from states that have done so, however, show just the opposite is happening. The Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) of the Office National Drug Control Policy issued a report in March summarizing what has happened in states that have legalized recreational marijuana for several years. These include California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Some of our drug sergeants also spent time with police in Denver and Aurora, Colorado, this summer to see what they’re doing so we can prepare for medical marijuana coming to Missouri. I wanted to share some of the common myths and facts about recreational marijuana from the HIDTA report and what our detectives experienced.

MYTH: Crime will go down if marijuana is legalized.
FACT: Colorado, Oregon and Washington all experienced increases in violent crime and property crime in the years following legalization. Recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Oregon in 2012. From 2012 to 2016, the number of homicides in both Colorado and in Oregon increased by 41%. Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. By 2016, their homicides had increased by 248%.

Another crime has sprung up around legalized recreational marijuana in these states: human trafficking. Between 2013 and 2016, Washington saw a 600% increase in these cases. According to the HIDTA report, “Several marijuana-producing states have reported cases of sexual exploitation, kidnapping, and forced labor linked to marijuana grow (operations), particularly in California’s Emerald Triangle region. Migrant workers that travel to the region to work in both legal and illegal growing operations have experienced rape, human trafficking, and other forms of abuse by marijuana growers.”

Reporter Alex Berenson gave a speech outlining the impact of marijuana on mental health and violence. He reported, “A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.”

Our sergeants who visited Colorado saw a family of Chinese nationals who had been trafficked to oversee a large, illegal growing operation in the basement of a $750,000 home in an affluent neighborhood. They learned this was common in that area.



MYTH: Marijuana legalization has no impact on intoxicated driving.
FACT: After recreational marijuana was legalized in California, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 151%. Fatalities involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose from 55 in 2013 to 138 in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk Study found that marijuana users are 1.25 times more likely to be involved in auto crashes than drug-negative drivers. According to a university study on the economic and social costs of legalized marijuana, 69% of Colorado marijuana users say they have driven under the influence of marijuana at least once, and 27% admit to driving under the influence on a daily basis.


MYTH: Tax revenue generated by marijuana sales will have a significant beneficial impact on the state.
FACT: For every dollar Colorado gained in tax revenue from marijuana sales, Coloradans spent more than $4.50 to mitigate the social costs of legalization, according to the university study. Costs related to the healthcare system and high school drop-outs were the biggest contributors. The estimated costs of DUIs in Colorado for people who tested positive for marijuana only in 2016 approach $25 million. There is certainly a lot of money to be made in legalizing marijuana, but not by the government.


Whether we accept marijuana as a legal part of our society is up to lawmakers and the public they serve. Police, however, are responsible for protecting the public, and there is no doubt that marijuana plays a large role in public safety. Legalization is no panacea, and has in fact increased crime and drugged driving in the states where it has happened. As the commander of the Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Team told our sergeants about legalization making its way to Missouri: “Get ready.” 

There is nothing to prove the rise in violent crime was caused by legalized recreational marijuana in the states that have experienced it. But the correlation is undeniable. The conversation about legalizing marijuana has been largely one-sided. As law enforcement, we must consider the impact this could have on public safety, and that needs to be part of the conversation. We’re not here to stifle the discussion but to add to it. The societal cost and drawbacks deserve as much discussion as any argument made in favor of marijuana legalization.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org



Thursday, August 22, 2019

Stopping career criminals who threaten deportation to keep victims silent

Recently, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s interaction with immigrants has come into question. Below is a great example of how KCPD handles crime issues, including those involving immigrant victims. We want to reassure the public that immigrant victims get the same standard of service that anyone else in Kansas City would receive.

We are working to stop a pattern of armed robberies in which the suspects told the victims – mostly older Latino males – not to report the crimes to police because they said officers would call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have them deported. Not only is that patently false, but the victims’ fear allowed the perpetrators to continue to victimize more and more people. This pattern of crimes started with four or five armed robberies in 2018 and resumed in May of this year, with another four to five cases linked so far.

Police arrested one of the three primary suspects Aug. 20, and he was charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. We anticipate arrests and charges on the other two soon.

As I have said before, KCPD does not enforce immigration laws and never inquires about a victim’s or witness’s documentation. It’s irrelevant to our duty. We would not have known about these crimes were it not for the relationship one of our social service workers built with Hope City, a house of prayer and community center at 24th and Quincy. Crime had escalated around the center earlier this year, so the East Patrol social service worker and a captain began going to Hope City every morning to see what they could do and introduce themselves to staff and volunteers. The initially chilly reception from clients changed when they found out KCPD was there to help. The social service worker helped one woman get a prosthetic leg, giving her the ability to walk again. She got another woman with cancer into medical treatment. She worked with another man to get his identification documentation, and that allowed him to get a job. Crime issues surrounding the area have dropped significantly since KCPD intervention.

The clients talked among themselves, however, about how they had been robbed at gunpoint by three men while they waited in line at Hope City to receive a free meal. The suspects shot one of the victims in the leg last week. But the victims of the prior robberies did not go to police because the suspects had convinced them they would be deported if they did so. That is what made these crimes so heinous to me: not only did the suspects threaten the lives of people to take their meager possessions; they took away the victims’ chance for justice and protection. The suspects knew this would allow them to continue to prey on the immigrant community. The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will not tolerate those actions.

Fortunately, one of the staff members at Hope City told our social service worker what he’d heard about these crimes from clients. That gave police the chance to investigate these cases and stop the suspects who were hurting so many vulnerable individuals. We don’t care where you’re from or how you got here because it is our duty to protect and serve EVERYONE in Kansas City. The Spanish-speaking captain of the Robbery Unit has reached out to many victims to encourage them to participate in the investigation.

These crimes and the fear they incited of KCPD among immigrants started occurring long before the viral video of KCPD responding to ICE’s request for assistance during an arrest. Since that video, we have spent a great deal of time out in communities assuring residents that nothing has changed with KCPD’s approach to immigration. We do not ask about it and have no intention to start.

In addition to our many community meetings, some of our Spanish-speaking officers will soon be going onto local Spanish-language radio stations to explain KCPD’s policy and practice regarding immigration. A community that does not trust police is vulnerable to violent crime. What happened to the victims of the armed robbers at 24th and Quincy is the worst-case scenario of that. We don’t ever want that to happen again. 


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org


Thursday, August 8, 2019

How does public policy affect public safety?

As we look for solutions to the stubborn violent crime problem in Kansas City, members of our department are trying several innovative approaches. Here are just some of the new things we’re working on to address violent crime:
  • The Crime Gun Intelligence Center launched last fall. It’s a partnership with the ATF to forensically link guns to crimes to suspects. We have acquired new technology and staff at our Crime Lab to assist with this effort, thanks to grant funding.
  • Risk Terrain Modeling looks at environmental factors that can lead to violent crime (e.g. liquor stores, bus stops, vacant buildings) so police and the city can proactively address any issues to make the environment less desirable to criminals.
  • We have worked with our partners and the U.S. Department of Justice to refocus the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) to individuals instead of groups. This will put the emphasis on prolific violent offenders and has been successful in other major cities.
  • On June 21, the reward money available for anonymous information leading to the arrest of a Kansas City, Missouri, homicide suspect through Greater Kansas City Stoppers went up to $25,000. Two tipsters have now earned that reward. The first person got paid Aug. 7.
  • We do extensive work with youth on conflict resolution and mentorship through initiatives like Youth Police Academy, Teens in Transition, Youth Police Initiative, Police Athletic League, School Resource Officers trained in conflict resolution, and the upcoming revamp of the Police Explorers program.
  • We have implemented social service workers at every patrol division station to address needs that residents might otherwise try to meet through criminal activity.
KCPD is doing much to tackle violent crime, yet the violent crime issue persists. In the wake of numerous acts of violence in our city and nationwide, there is something else that must be considered that is beyond the scope of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department: We must ask whether public policy can make a difference in public safety?

First, consider this 2018 list from USA Today of the 25 most dangerous cities in the U.S., based on violent crime data law enforcement agencies submit to the FBI. Springfield, Mo., is ranked No. 12; Kansas City, Mo., is ranked No. 5; and St. Louis, Mo., is ranked No. 1. Out of all 50 states, Missouri has three cities ranked in the top 12. What does that say about the policies of our state?

If you want to hunt an animal in Missouri, you must attend a hunter’s safety education course and obtain a license. All of that is required to use a gun around wild animals, but recent state legislation has removed any requirements on carrying or using a gun around people. Now anyone 19 or older can legally carry a concealed weapon with no training in Missouri. Doesn’t it make sense for those who want to carry guns around people to do so with proper training?

The common refrain that usually accompanies calls for any kind of gun regulation is, “They want to take our guns away.” The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has no interest whatsoever in taking guns away that are legally possessed by residents. The law that applies to carrying a firearm for hunting – training and permitting requirements – is the same kind of law that should be used for possessing firearms, period. Law enforcement officers in Missouri currently have limited tools to prevent violence from occurring by taking guns out of the hands of those who want to harm others.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, a total of 1,346 people in Kansas City, Mo., have been murdered, the vast majority by firearms. That is a horrific loss of life in one decade. Imagine if we had a single incident with that many people killed at once in Kansas City. What would the reactions be? Would there be calls for some kind of immediate policy change so that could never happen again?

Public policy can provide law enforcement with more tools to combat violent crime, such as an effective corrections system, stricter laws, and grants/funding for more officers and equipment. Regardless of the gun laws, of which there are currently many, they are ineffective without a certainty of punishment. Certainty of punishment is more important than severity in the prevention of gun violence.

As I outlined at the beginning of this blog, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department are doing everything in our power to curb violent crime. But those in the halls of the legislature can affect public safety – for good or bad – at a much broader level. Something has to change. We hope the frustration our community is feeling about violent crime will turn into the action that is needed to change public policy to protect the people of Kansas City. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

KCPD thrust into national debate from ICE arrest viral video

There has been much discussion and debate surrounding the July 22 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stop that was filmed and shared on Facebook Live. I think it’s important to say upfront that the Kansas City Missouri Police Department does not do proactive immigration enforcement. That’s not our role. We do, however, respond to calls of people who need us all day, every day.
The call that came in from ICE agents asking for help on July 22 was entered into our dispatch system just like any call from the public, and officers responded as they would to any other call. We regularly assist outside agencies working in our city who ask for back-up, from sheriff’s deputies to federal agents. We don’t get to decide what calls we respond to. We just go. That’s our duty.

It is not our duty or prerogative to enforce immigration laws. Our policy clearly states, “Only immigration officers have the authority to detain and arrest suspected undocumented/unauthorized foreign nationals for violations of the immigration laws.” We are compelled by Missouri Statute 67.307, however, to “cooperate with state and federal agencies and officials on matters pertaining to enforcement of state and federal laws governing immigration.”

In the July 22 incident, several KCPD officers responded to ICE’s request for assistance regarding a man they were attempting to arrest who would not exit his vehicle. We would assist any local, state, or federal law enforcement agency who faced the same situation and had jurisdiction in our city. Responding KCPD personnel made many attempts to de-escalate the situation. You can see in the video the very respectful way the primary sergeant at the scene spoke with the man in the car and with his family after the arrest. His calming presence is part of the reason that KCPD officers respond to assist outside agencies. Our officers know their communities. They know their problems and fears. We believe the presence of KCPD personnel was a stabilizing factor in this incident.

In any high-profile incident like this, it’s important that we reach out to the members of our community and engage in discussion. As we have done before, I directed all of our Community Interaction Officers and patrol commanders to reach out to the residents with whom they work, especially our close community partners that work with immigrant communities. We want to ensure they know that KCPD did not initiate the stop in question, did not physically remove the individual from the car, nor did we take the man into our custody. We also want to assure them nothing has changed: it is not our policy or practice to conduct proactive immigration enforcement. It is our job to protect the life and property of everyone in Kansas City. Our community is safer when everyone – no matter how they got here – trusts their local police department. It would be detrimental to all of us if this incident incites fear of KCPD. Our officers are working harder than ever now to build that trust. This will come through community meetings, difficult conversations, and professional service.

We know this incident puts us in the middle of a national debate, but our job is to focus on how KCPD personnel can best serve the people of Kansas City. We will continue to review this and similar situations to ensure the process of continuous improvement to the service we provide. Other commanders and I have examined the video, just as we do with all incidents that merit a review. We continue to take the lessons learned from incidents such as this to assess our practices and policies going forward.

Meanwhile, we will continue to do what we’ve always done: respond to the calls of those who need help, no matter who they are. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Monday, July 22, 2019

$25,000 reward greatly increases homicide tips

I am grateful to announce that two Kansas City, Missouri, homicides have been solved in the last month thanks to anonymous tips that carry a reward of $25,000 each. Both of those tips came in after the June 21 press conference announcing the $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in homicides that occurred in Kansas City, Missouri.

For many, $25,000 is life-changing money. We also hope it will change the lives of families who are grieving with no sense of justice over who killed their loved ones. The trend is certainly looking good. According to numbers from Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers, since the press conference announcing the reward increase, there have been 58 tips submitted on Kansas City, Missouri, homicides. Compare that to the month prior (May 20 – June 20, 2019), when there were only 23 KCMO homicide tips. That’s an increase of more than 150% month over month.

The reward increase is not just benefiting KCMO, but the whole metropolitan area. Citywide, homicide tips (including those from KCMO) went from 39 to 87, a 123% month-over-month increase.

Our hope is that the $25,000 reward will create so much fear of being turned in that those who might consider bringing a firearm along to solve a dispute or rob someone will think otherwise. Already, the numbers are showing that people are a lot more willing to share what they know for $25K.

We are working with our many partners to fund a robust, multi-media campaign to ensure everyone knows what “good money” it is. The campaign will especially focus on areas of Kansas City, Mo., most impacted by violence. It will be working on the street-level to ensure every single person affected by violent crime knows about the $25,000 reward.

Working with the community, we can bring justice for those already impacted by homicide and prevent future killings.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Major changes underway to fight against violent gun crimes in Kansas City


It’s no stretch to say violent crime in Kansas City, particularly gun crime, is far too high. Reducing that has been my top priority as Chief, and it’s a top priority for just about everyone else in law enforcement here and our partners in the local and federal government. More than anyone else, I also know it’s a top priority for our community.

I wanted to outline some of the changes we’ve made – along with our partners – to work with the community to prevent and solve violent crime.

Reward increase for homicide tips

One of the things I’m most excited about is the increase in the anonymous reward amount for successful homicide tips from $10,000 to $25,000 through Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers. This increase will be accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign to ensure everyone knows about it, especially in the areas where the most violent crime occurs. The City of Kansas City is making a substantial investment in this effort.

An amount like $25,000 can be life-changing for some, and our hope is that it will lead to justice for the families of murder victims. Beyond that, we believe it will have a deterrent effect. Maybe bringing a gun to settle an argument isn’t such a good idea with an incentive of $25,000 motivating those with information to come forward.

The population of Omaha, Neb., is only slightly smaller than Kansas City’s. Omaha has been offering a $25,000 reward for successful homicide tips for some time. Their city had only 20 homicides last year. Kansas City had 138. Reward money may not be the only factor, but it does appear to impact violent crime in Omaha.

We have proof more reward money leads to more tips. The reward for successful anonymous tips for Kansas City, Mo., homicides increased from $2,000 to $5,000 in November 2017, and then went up to $10,000 in April 2018. Crime Stoppers saw a 26% increase in homicide tips in the year those changes occurred. And though the increased reward was only applicable to KCMO homicides, the tips for homicide cases went up across the board for the whole metro area. Those increased tips meant more than double the average amount of homicides cleared through anonymous tips in the greater Kansas City area.

Changing the focus of Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA)

After extensive evaluation, KC NoVA switched its enforcement strategy in May 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 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.  NoVA accomplished its initial goal of reducing group-related violence. Since NoVA went into full effect in 2014, group-related homicides have dropped from 64% of all of our homicides to 37% of homicides. But homicides 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.

The social services component of KC NoVA will continue to help individuals find better futures that don’t involve crime or violence.

Stolen guns hurt everyone

We don’t just want to solve crimes after they happen. We want to prevent them from taking place. The Kansas City Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working with Crime Stoppers and the City of Kansas City to offer  a reward of $500 to $1,000 for information regarding stolen guns and straw purchasers (guns purchased on behalf of someone who cannot legally possess a firearm, usually a felon).  

Guns are finding their way into crime through straw purchase, theft from vehicles, residential burglaries and thefts from gun shops. The ATF and the United States Attorney’s Office have an excellent record of bringing to justice those who break into area guns stores; however, those guns – like any stolen guns – hit the streets very quickly. We need the public’s help to find those guns, get them off of the streets BEFORE they can be used in crime, and hold those responsible for putting these guns on the streets, accountable. 

We believe the $500 to $1,000 reward for information leading to stolen guns, straw purchasers, and others using firearms illegally will help achieve those goals.

Crime Gun Intelligence Center

Since last fall, the Crime Gun Intelligence Center has been working to analyze all gun crimes in Kansas City and link them forensically. The Center is a task force composed of KCPD detectives, officers from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department and ATF agents all working in the same location. Just three years ago, it took nine to 12 months to get forensic analysis back on some gun crimes. Thanks to a federal grant that led to the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, this now happens in 24 to 48 hours.

The forensic linking is a tool to guide detectives in a direction. Detectives still have to put the pieces together. Firearms change hands quickly, especially after a gun crime occurs, but we have better tools than ever now to link guns to crimes, which leads us to linking people to crimes.


Community Outreach

As I have previously mentioned, we added social workers at each of our six patrol division stations and doubled the number of Community Interaction Officers at each station. The intent of this was to address a lot of issues before they escalated into violence. The social workers link people to resources who might otherwise turn to crime to meet their needs. They are particularly focused on youth issues.

Community Interaction Officers address long-term neighborhood issues. They also work to strengthen communities through block watch programs, crime prevention through environmental design and building relationships with the police department. Empowered, connected, organized neighborhoods are the greatest crime deterrent our city has.

Because ultimately, we can have all the rewards and programs in the world, but little will change without the community’s involvement. You are the best crime-fighting resource we have, and we are honored to protect and serve alongside you.    


Our city is tired of the senseless violence that has altered so many lives. Today, this police department and our many partners are sending a clear message that the illegal and senseless use of firearms must stop. As a city, we can do better and we must. Our message to our great city is that everyone has an opportunity to reduce violence. If you know violence is about to happen, speak out. If you know someone who has been involved in violent acts, speak out. We do not have to accept violence!