Friday, February 27, 2009

The Rumbler

Have you heard/felt the Rumbler siren? We’re testing it out on seven police cars right now. I tried it out last week, and it definitely will make you sit up and take notice. This is an article from our monthly Informant newsletter (you can see the whole thing at that explains it well:

The new Rumbler siren can alert the most distracted, inattentive drivers that police are coming and notify them to get out of the way. Rumbler manufacturer Federal Signal says the system has “the distinct advantage of penetrating and shaking solid materials allowing vehicle operators and nearby pedestrians to FEEL the sound waves, and perhaps even see their effects through a shaking rearview mirror.”
Captain Eric Winebrenner, Commander of Fleet Operations, said the Rumbler is similar to the low, vibrating tones one can hear and feel from cars with very loud radios and pumped up basses. One car in each of the city’s six patrol divisions began testing the Rumbler in January, as well one in the Vehicular Crimes Section.
Captain Winebrenner said the department wants to see if the Rumbler will be more effective at causing people to yield to police, thus reducing crashes at intersections and speeding response times.
“It’s been a problem – with cell phones and radios, people can’t hear the siren coming,” Captain Winebrenner said.
Vehicular Crimes Section Officer Bill Johnson was the first KCPD officer to try the Rumbler when the department got its first test system in July 2008. He said he likes it so much, that when his car was in the shop for a week and he had to drive another without the Rumbler, he felt at a loss.
“It drove me crazy not having it,” he said.
The system works by producing a lower-pitched siren overall and mounting two subwoofers to the police car’s frame, just in front of the front tires. Police turn on the rumbling at will.
Officer Johnson said police don’t feel anything driving the car, but those around the car do.
“It really makes a difference,” he said. “When you’re going down the road you can see people getting out of the way three blocks ahead of you in broad daylight. Lights are effective at night, but not as much in the day … And the sound of sirens in the urban core is just like background noise.”
Federal Signal says in its product literature that the Rumbler is “ideal” for urban settings because it stands out from regular city noise. Spokesman John Segvich said it’s already in use by more than 200 police and sheriff’s departments in America, including St. Louis, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Broward County, Fla.; Galveston, Texas; and smaller cities like Salina, Kan.
Captain Winebrenner said the Rumbler test will go on until April, at which point officers driving the cars with Rumblers will report on how well they think they work. Commanders also will consider the Rumbler’s cost, which is just over $400 per car. If all those factors work out, a Rumbler may be coming to a crime scene near you.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crime down 16% in 2008

You wouldn’t know it by watching the news some days, but part one crimes in Kansas City fell by a double-digit percentage in 2008 – 16 percent. That's the lowest level in 12 years. Part one crimes include: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, auto theft and arson. Sadly, homicides were up by 28 percent, and we’re working day and night to address that. The fourth quarter of 2008 showed a 54 percent reduction in homicides from the third quarter, so we’re moving in the right direction.

But all other numbers were down. This is not a coincidence. The police department has painstakingly collected data to identify crime hot spots and then strategically attacked those problems. Put simply, Kansas City was safer in 2008 than it was in 2007. Above are the raw numbers from those two years. These have been reviewed and accepted by the state of Missouri. Click on the chart to see a bigger version.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jacob honors his heroes

I had the honor today of meeting 17-year-old Jacob Fischer. After surviving 32 hours in a wrecked car before anyone found him, it was clear that Jacob is a fighter. He and his family came to Police Headquarters today to present Certificates of Commendation to the officers who found him and helped save his life. It was a very touching moment when Jacob got to honor his heroes. Jacob also got to meet all the dispatchers who were on duty when he went missing and thank them for their work. He was a very grateful and eloquent young man, and I wish him a speedy recovery. Here’s the story of how our officers rescued him:

Jacob never showed up to meet his friends for a hunting outing on the foggy morning of Nov. 1, 2008. When he still hadn’t turned up that evening, his parents were frantic and called the police department in the city Jacob was last seen. A dispatcher there said they typically wait 24 hours before filing a missing person report for adults 17 and older. Frustrated, Jacob’s dad called a KCPD officer he knew, Officer Gale Hall. It was 12:15 a.m. Nov. 2.

Officer Hall told them to be persistent with the other police department. Jacob’s friends quickly gathered and formed search parties. They drove all the routes where they thought Jacob could have gone and checked hospitals and police stations. Officer Hall called KCPD dispatchers and asked them to repeatedly broadcast information about Jacob and his car so officers all over the city would be on the look-out for it. Jacob’s friends searched into the night and unknowingly drove past Jacob several times. His car was wrecked 15 feet off the roadway on Noland Road, down a hill and out of sight. He was trapped inside.

More than 24 hours after Jacob had been missing, Major Bob Kuehl joined the search. His son knew friends of Jacob’s, and they had asked him to get involved, even though as commander of the Logistical Support Division – which includes the Communications and Radio Maintenance units - he wasn’t normally involved in missing persons investigations. Major Kuehl arranged with KCPD dispatchers to contact Jacob’s cell phone company and learned his phone went “off the network” at 6:14 a.m. Nov. 1. That most likely meant Jacob didn’t make it far from home. Major Kuehl called the KCPD Helicopter Unit and asked them to fly from Raytown to Interstate 70 and Lee’s Summit Road, paying particular attention to windy sections of Noland Road near 40 Highway.

The Helicopter officers quickly spotted a car in a ditch along Noland Road, less than a mile from where Jacob lived. Major Kuehl was nearby. He requested an ambulance and the fire department, and then helicopter officers guided him as he climbed down the embankment to get to the wrecked car. Major Kuehl looked into the car and saw Jacob. He was alive, but severely injured and barely conscious. He had been trapped in the wreckage for 32 hours. Firefighters had to cut off the roof of Jacob’s car to get him out, and he was transported to a hospital. He is now undergoing rehabilitation.

Jacob’s parents, Scott and Stephanie Fischer, said in a letter to me that Jacob would not be alive today were it not for Officer Hall and Major Kuehl. They said, “All of us will be eternally grateful to both men. The term ‘hero’ is often over-used, but in this case, Major Kuehl and Officer Hall are truly HEROES.’”

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Monday, February 23, 2009


I love visiting neighborhood meetings. It’s a great way to get the pulse of the community, discuss pressing issues and talk about the wonderful work the men and women of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department do. Unfortunately, I can’t attend neighborhood meetings as frequently as I’d like. But I’d still like the opportunity to hear from the community, chat about important issues and tell you about the amazing things members of the police department do day in and day out – which is why we’re launching this blog.

With more than 319 square miles to patrol and a day-time population of more than 1 million people to serve, the KCPD has a tremendous responsibility, and you deserve to know more about us. One of the biggest issues facing our department right now is the budget, and we’ll be placing pertinent information on that topic up here regularly.

I want this blog to serve as a place where you can hear about our latest news, officers’ heroics, crime statistics and patterns, and my take on the issues of the day. You also can tell me what you’re thinking by clicking on the “e-mail the Chief” link at the bottom of each post. We’re here to protect and serve you, so your feedback is important. Feel free to link this blog to yours or put it on your Web page.

It’s an honor to serve you, and welcome to my blog. You can e-mail your comments to me at