Friday, February 26, 2010

Serial rapist case: an update and dispelling rumors

The case of the serial rapist in the Waldo and Brookside areas has received vast amounts of media coverage and been the subject of many internet groups and postings. This is both good and bad. It gets the information out there, but it also propagates fear, irrationality and rumors. I wanted to both update you on the case and address some of those rumors. First, the status of the case:

Five women have been raped in their homes in the Waldo and Brookside areas from Sept. 29, 2009, to Feb. 22 of this year. All the women lived alone and were home alone at the time. We have dedicated 10 detectives and three sergeants to investigate the case full time. To date, we have received 434 tips, and detectives are looking into every one of them. We also have culled lots of evidence from the scene of each sexual assault, and the scientists at our Crime Lab are busy examining and processing that evidence.

Our Metro Patrol Division officers are conducting extra patrols in the area. Officers who are not on another call or are not geographically far away have been going through the streets of Waldo and Brookside. The Metro Patrol Community Interaction Officer and other CIOs have received hundreds of requests to conduct home security surveys, and we’re training additional officers to help conduct those. Our officers continue to meet with community groups and are assisting the Sex Crimes Section with anything they need.

Now, I wanted to dispel some rumors that have cropped up:

Rumor: Police are looking for a dark blue Chevy four-door car.
Fact: Police have no suspect vehicle description of any kind. If you see someone in any type of car acting suspiciously, call police.

Rumor: Police are hiding what they know.
Fact: Once we realized there was a pattern to these rapes, we immediately informed the media, put it on our web site and this blog and took a number of other steps to get the information out there. However, we cannot jeopardize our investigation by disclosing what evidence we have or what exactly the rapist’s M.O. was during his crimes. Disclosing too much information could not only make the suspect harder to catch, it also could make it harder to prosecute him. We are trying to balance releasing information that can keep the public safe (like letting them know the rapist has entered through unlocked doors and windows and reminding them to lock their own) with information that could jeopardize the whole case.

For reliable information on this case, keep an eye on this blog and at

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Gov. Nixon appoints Alvin Brooks to Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has named Alvin Brooks to serve on the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. He will replace James B. Wilson, whose term has expired. Brooks' appointment is subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate. Read more about Al, a former KCPD police officer, in the governor's press release.

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Officer devotes himself to helping 27th and Prospect

On Tuesday, we presented a Meritorious Service Award to Officer Corey Carlisle - a young officer at East Patrol Division who has a heart for the inner city, largely because he grew up there. Here's what he did:

For too long, Officer Carlisle watched large numbers of people in the area of 27th and Prospect using and selling drugs, participating in prostitution, trespassing and violating multiple nuisance ordinances.

In June 2009, he decided to make a difference in the lives of those who lived, worked and frequented the area. He started learning about the population’s demographics and the specific problems in the area. He put together a thorough plan to identify what led to the area’s issues and how to resolve them that included law enforcement and social service agencies.

Officer Carlisle then created a “knowledge management system” computer program accessible by all department members on the KCPD intranet. This included photos and information of those who frequent the 27th and Prospect area such as a record of the individuals’ contact with police, ordinance violations and property ownership. He showed the program to officers from other divisions so they can use it for their own projects.

Next, he contacted community leaders, business owners, property owners, residents, social service agencies and anyone else he thought could or would help resolve the issues of 27th and Prospect. He coordinated meetings and encouraged other East Patrol members to increase enforcement activity in the area.

The culmination of Carlisle’s work was a community outreach program called “Beyond the Cuffs” that involved police and social service agency leaders. The first major outreach took place Oct. 21, 2009, at Morningstar Baptist Church. Twenty-one people who were identified as living risky lifestyles were fed, examined by doctors and offered free, in-patient addiction treatment. Beyond the Cuffs was so successful that subsequent outreach events followed.

Sergeant Richard Anthony said, “Officer Carlisle has utilized superior problem-solving skills in an ongoing effort to achieve a long-term, significant impact on the problems facing the area of 27th and Prospect.”

Captain Jeff Emery agreed and said Officer Carlisle “has truly established a positive relationship with the citizens who reside in the area and has shown that he is genuinely concerned about improving their overall living conditions.”

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vigilante justice isn't the answer

As I’ve said before, I know this is a very frightening time for residents of the Waldo and Brookside areas, especially women living alone. But that does not mean it is OK to put yourself at risk and attempt to take justice into your own hands.

Someone did just that last night and almost got killed. The man thought he saw someone who resembled the description of the serial rapist who has attacked five women in the Waldo and Brookside areas. That man followed the person he thought was the rapist into Kansas City, Kan. The man being followed eventually got out of his car and shot at the man following him. Police took the shooter into custody but have no reason to believe he is the serial rapist.

Being a vigilante is not safe for anyone. If you see someone suspicious, CALL POLICE. Police undergo thousands of hours of training and have years’ worth of experience to deal with these situations. The average resident does not. They put themselves at extreme risk trying to deal with suspected criminals on their own. Police will respond to your call as quickly as possible to deal with the situation.

And while we encourage everyone in the Waldo and Brookside areas to be on alert for the rape suspect, we do not want terror and panic to set in. It leads to irrational actions just like what happened last night. If anything, we want the people in these neighborhoods and throughout the city to feel empowered, not afraid. Track crime reports in your neighborhood. Attend a personal safety class. Get involved with your neighborhood association, become acquainted with everyone who lives around you, and look out for each other. Know that you have a highly trained and dedicated police force working around the clock to protect you. These calm actions will lead to real justice.

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Highlights of the Feb. 23 Board of Police Commissioners meeting

• City Auditor Gary White presented the results of the 3rd quarter FY 2010 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. A total of 61 percent of residents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of local police protection. Click for full survey results.

• City Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhoods Committee, said she was pleased with the success of the city’s red light cameras program and was in discussions with Union Pacific to install similar cameras at railroad crossings. She said the rail company had approached her about initiating the project. She also explained the success of the city’s Aim 4 Peace program and the ongoing efforts to find funding for it.

• Deputy Chief Cy Ritter said KCPD is down 70 officers in the field at present. However, two classes of 30 recruits each are currently attending the Police Academy. D.C. Ritter also said police had been working to increase their visibility in neighborhoods throughout the city by placing Mounted Patrol and Canine units on patrol.

• Deputy Chief Kevin Masters reported that the Investigations Bureau is devoting a considerable amount of resources to investigating a serial rapist in the Waldo/Brookside area.

• Human Resources Manager Doug Weishar presented about the development of a computer program for an employee early warning/risk management system. The program is called SEERS – or Successful Employee Enhancement and Retention System. The program is being designed for sworn personnel and will track such things as Office of Community Complaints cases against the officer, officer-involved shootings, response to resistance reports, accidental discharge of firearms, assaults on the officer, arrests involving resistance and sick time usage. Weishar said the purpose of the program is to identify individual officers who may be having job performance difficulties and work to correct those issues as quickly as possible.

• Board Vice President Karl Zobrist said he would like to commit to paper some of the standard practices the Kansas City Board uses to maintain the highest standards of conduct to avoid some of the issues facing the Board of Police Commissioners in St. Louis. Some of those practices of the Kansas City board include: rotating office-holders annually, having an audit committee and notifying the rest of the board and public if a member has any conflict of interest in an issue and abstaining from the vote if he/she does.

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Identity of woman shot by officers when she drove her car at them released

At about 10:22 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, officers were in the area of Truman and Indiana when their police vehicle was nearly struck by a small sport utility vehicle. The officers tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver, now identified as 19-year-old Jessica D. Jones of Kansas City, Kan., refused to stop. Believing the vehicle presented a danger to the public because of unsafe driving, the officers pursued the SUV to the area of 31st and Terrace. Jones turned south on Terrace from 31st Street, stopping in a dead end. The officers exited their vehicles, and Jones turned around and began to drive at the officers. The officers shot at Jones and killed her.

Jones was the sole occupant of the vehicle. Four officers shot at the car. No officer was injured. They are on routine administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

Detectives have discovered that the SUV Jones was driving had been stolen from Overland Park, Kan. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kansas City Police tell motorists to Click It or Ticket tomorrow


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department announced today it is joining with other law enforcement agencies Thursday, Feb. 25, for an aggressive “Click It or Ticket” mobilization to crack down on safety belt and child restraint law violators in an effort to reduce fatalities.

“Nearly every day, someone dies in a crash in Missouri because they weren’t wearing a seat belt,” said Sgt. Grant Ruark of the Traffic Enforcement Unit. “So far this year in Kansas City, Missouri, we have had a real decrease in fatal crashes as compared to the same time last year. While this is obviously great news we cannot let up. Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.”

To date, there have been five traffic fatalities in Kansas City in 2010 compared to 13 at this time in 2009.

Out of the 40 vehicle drivers and passengers killed in Kansas City traffic crashes in 2009, just seven of them were wearing seatbelts. Ten of those 40 were ejected from their vehicles.

Nearly one in four Missouri motorists still fail to regularly wear their safety belts. Only 77 percent of Missourians buckle up regularly which is 7 percent less than the national average.

Failure to regularly wear a safety belt can be deadly. In 2008, 489 people killed in traffic crashes were not wearing their seat belts. Seven out of ten Missourians killed in traffic crashes are unbuckled.

For information on Missouri seat belt usage, visit

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teen killed at bus depot identified

At about 1:45 p.m. yesterday, Feb. 22, police were called to the Metro Center KCATA bus depot at 39th and Troost on a reported shooting. Upon arrival, they found a deceased male on the floor of the depot suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He has been identified as 18-year-old Avion D. Williamson of Kansas City, Mo.

Witnesses reported that Williamson was with a group of people inside the bus depot waiting area. He went outside with the group, then he came back inside and sat down. Another member of the group that had been outside then walked back inside and shot Williamson multiple times. The male suspect fled the area on foot.

Police have no suspects in custody. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Police doing everything they can to catch Waldo-area rapist

I know women living in the Waldo and Brookside areas are terribly anxious and upset right now about what's going on in their neighborhood. No one should have to live in fear in their own homes that they might be the next victim of a serial rapist. I just wanted those women to know that Kansas City police are not sitting idly by and letting this happen. We are devoting as much manpower as we can to this case (while still working thousands of other cases in the rest of the city).

Since the serial rapist resurfaced in mid-January, we have had 10 detectives devoted to this case full time tracking down the 286 tips we'd gotten up through last night (before the latest rape). Every single tip has been investigated. Our crime scene investigators and detectives have spent 12 hours and counting at the home of last night's victim - unusual for even a murder case - trying to find every shred of evidence they possibly can to identify and capture the suspect before he can hurt anyone else. We also spent considerable time at the scenes of the previous assaults. We worked with victims to develop a composite sketch of the suspect and have distributed that sketch as widely as we can.

We have conducted many additional patrols in Waldo and Brookside and have done numerous security surveys for residents who live there. (If you'd like a free security survey, call your patrol division's Community Interaction Officer.) Our officers have met with numerous neighborhood groups to tell them about the investigation.

We've also offered numerous, free, personal safety classes. In fact, one more is scheduled for this week from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Scottish Rite Temple at 1330 E. Linwood. This class will discuss personal safety at home and in public, self-defense techniques, protecting yourself from drug-facilitated sexual assaults, different types of weapons and a question-and-answer session. Crime prevention brochures also will be available.

With your help - the tip that cracks the case (the reward now stands at more than $6,000) - we can ensure justice is served to this despicable criminal and end the fear in this community.

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Victim killed at 24th and Highland identified

At about 11:55 p.m. yesterday, Feb. 21, police were called to the intersection of 24th Street and Highland in regard to an ambulance call. Upon arrival, officers found a deceased man lying on the ground. He has been identified as 20-year-old Michael E. Baker Jr. of Kansas City, Mo.

There are no suspects in custody, and detectives ask anyone with information to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Baker's homicide is Kansas City's 11th of 2010, compared to 16 at this date in both 2009 and 2008.

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Police investigating overnight sexual assault that could be linked to serial rapist

UPDATE: Investigators now say the suspect in last night's rape in Armour Hills is the same as that in the previous four rapes in Waldo. He entered the home of last night's victim through an unlocked window.

Kansas City Police are investigating an overnight rape that could be linked to others reported in the Waldo area.

A 33-year-old woman who lives alone in the 300 block of East 69th Terrace called police at 2:55 a.m. today, Feb. 22, to report she had been sexually assaulted. The victim said she had been asleep at about 1:30 a.m. when she awoke to a heavy-set black male beside her bed. The man sexually assaulted her until 2:55 a.m. He left, and the victim called police.

Police are investigating the possibility that the suspect is the same man responsible for previous rapes in the same area both because of similar descriptions of the suspect and the similar locations of the crimes. Prior sexual assaults were reported on Jan. 23 and 24 in the 8300 block of Mercier Street and 10 block of East Porte Cimi Pass, respectively. Similar assaults also took place in the 7500 block of Summit on Sept. 29, 2009, and in the 100 block of East 78th Terrace on Oct. 11, 2009.

Police ask residents of the area to ensure their doors and windows are locked. In some of the previously reported sexual assaults, the suspect entered through unlocked windows and doors. Police also are available to conduct free security surveys of residents’ homes to point out possible security weaknesses. Contact the Community Interaction Officer in the patrol division in which you live (for patrol division boundaries and Community Interaction Officer contact information, go to to schedule a security survey.

Victims of previous sexual assaults in the area described the suspect as a black male about 6 feet tall and 250 pounds with a bald head and pitted cheeks. They said he had a deep, smooth voice, bad breath and his clothes smelled like exhaust fumes. He told one victim he is 27 years old, but police believe he is older.

Police also request that anyone who thinks they may have seen anything – a car driving by or person walking – in the area of the assault last night call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477). Officers will increase patrols in the area.

Board of Police Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow

The KCPD Board of Police Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in the sixth-floor board room of Police Headquarters, 1125 Locust St. Here's the agenda:

1. Call to Order – Invocation – Pastor John "Modest" Miles.

2. Awards and Commendations.

Certificate of Appreciation
Mr. Robert Hanson

Certificate of Appreciation
Mr. Joe Ford

Meritorious Service Award
Master Patrol Officer Steve Busch

Meritorious Service Award
Officer Corey Carlisle

Meritorious Service Award
Captain Rick Smith

3. Approval of Minutes.
a. December 10, 2009 Business Session.
b. December 22, 2009 Board Meeting.
c. January 8, 2010, Business Session.
d. January 26, 2010, Board Meeting

4. Mr. Gary White, City Auditor.

a. Monthly Status Report.
b. Third Quarter Citizen Satisfaction Survey Results.
c. General Discussion.

5. Councilwoman Cathy Jolly - Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods.

6. CIMO Report.
Mr. Eric Bosch

7. Ms. I. Pearl Fain – Office of Community Complaints.

a. General Discussion.

8. Acting Chief Cyril Ritter.
a. Public Safety Sales Tax Renewal.
b. General Discussion.

9. Deputy Chief Nick Nichols – Executive Officer.

a. Monthly Report OCC Investigations.
b. General Discussion.

10. Deputy Chief Cyril Ritter – Patrol Bureau.

a. Crime Summary
b. Performance Report.
c. General Discussion.

11. Deputy Chief Kevin Masters – Investigations Bureau.
a. Arrest Summary.
b. Homicide Quarterly.
c. General Discussion.

12. Deputy Chief Rachel Whipple – Administration Bureau.
a. SEERS Update.
b. Personnel Summary.
c. General Discussion.

13. Deputy Chief Darryl Forte´ – Executive Services Bureau
a. Traffic Services Grant, 2010 STARS MDC Program.
b. Regional Academy Video Production Studio.
c. Sole Source Purchase of C20C Helicopter Engine.
d. Bank Bid Renewal.
e. Budget Transfers for Fiscal Year 2009-10.
f. Budget Summary Report for Month of January.
g. Jail Consolidation.

14. Director Rick Brisbin – Professional Development and Research Bureau.

a. Project #350, Death Investigations.
b. Proposed Personnel Policy, C.R.I.T.I.C.A.L. Values.
c. Revision of Personnel Policy, Legal Restrictions Affecting Performance of Duty.
d. Proposed Procedural Instruction, DRAGNET Reports.
e. Proposed Procedural Instruction, Tiburon Computer System ARS/RMS.
f. General Discussion.

15. Ms. Lisa S. Morris, Office of General Counsel.
a. Private Officer License Appeal, Christopher Miller.

16. Public Comments (between 10:30 and 11 a.m.)

17. Scheduled Meetings:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
9:00 a.m., 6th Floor, Board Room

Business Session:

Thursday, March 11, 2010
9:00 a.m., 6th Floor, Board Room

Thursday, April 8, 2010
8:30 a.m., 6th Floor, Board Room

18. Ms. Mischa Buford Epps.

19. Acting Chief Cyril Ritter.

20. Mayor Mark Funkhouser.

21. Commissioner Patrick McInerney

22. Commissioner James B. Wilson.

23. Commissioner Karl Zobrist.

24. Commissioner Mark C. Thompson.

25. Motion to go into Closed Session.

25. Informational Items:

a. Academy Campus Usage Report, January 2010.
b. Funding Gap Elimination Implementation Timeline.
c. KCPD Grant Summary 02/11/10.
d. Project #44, Revision of Procedural Instruction 98-7, Ambulance Calls and Arrests Taken to Hospitals.
e. Proposed Procedural Instruction, Red File Targets.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Police identify man shot by officers

Police have released the name of the suspect officers killed when he held a knife to his mother's throat in the 10900 block of East 51st Street yesterday, Feb. 18. He has been identified as 18-year-old Blake Bowman of Kansas City, Mo.

Police were in the area of Bowman's home yesterday afternoon because Bowman was wanted for an armed robbery. When they found him outside his residence, he ran inside and forced his mother inside, also. Police believed he was armed, and Bowman took actions indicating he was barricading himself inside the home. Tactical teams surrounded the house at about 2 p.m. After police attempted to negotiate with him, Bowman eventually exited through the back door, acting aggressively and holding his mother in front of him and holding a knife to her throat. Officers repeatedly told him to drop his weapon. When he did not, a tactical officer shot and fatally wounded Bowman to protect the woman's life.

Detectives are investigating the incident, and the police officer involved in the shooting has been placed on routine administrative leave during the investigation.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who says cops don't have a sense of humor?

Update: I found out this was when we first switched to digital in-car cameras from our analog system (January 2009). Our Patrol Video Unit had encouraged officers to play around with the new technology to familiarize themselves with it. This officer took those instructions to heart.

All of our patrol officers have in-car digital video cameras. We ask all of them to check those cameras at the beginning of each of their shifts to ensure they're functioning properly. At the end of their shifts, officers download all the video that was recorded onto a central server so it can be reviewed, if necessary. We found this little ditty last year and are now using it as a reminder to all officers to check their cameras at shift's start. I'm not entirely sure this officer was aware the camera was recording at the time, but he's got some interesting moves!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Police conduct active shooter training at high school

On Friday, Feb. 12, shots were fired at Staley High School, and dozens of officers converged to stop three active shooters. No one was hurt. That’s because it was all a training exercise.

We’ve all heard about tragic school shootings that take the lives of innocent students and teachers. We are fortunate that none has happened here, but we want to be ready if it does. That’s why we do full-scale training exercises like this. Our Shoal Creek Patrol Division worked with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department and North Kansas City School District to arrange Friday’s scenario. The students had a half day for teacher in-service, and we waited until they left so as not to alarm them. The teachers then acted as students – hiding in classrooms or wherever they could to escape the gunmen.

Our patrol officers and Clay County Sheriff’s deputies then went about searching the school for the gunmen. They used airsoft weapons to simulate real firearms. They quickly found the three “shooters” and stopped them. (The face masks in the pictures were to protect participants' faces from the airsoft munitions.)

Two points of this are important. First: working with sheriff’s deputies. In the North Kansas City School District, Clay County Sheriff’s deputies serve as school resource officers (south of the river, in the KCMO district, our officers are the SROs). The deputies would be the first people dealing with any type of shooter event in the schools, and we need to be able to coordinate with them as much as possible.

Second: our active shooter response. Before the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, many law enforcement agencies – ours included – took a very different approach to active shooters (and there hadn’t been that many before Columbine). The agencies would wait for their specially trained tactical units or SWAT teams to arrive to go into a building and stop the shooter. Columbine taught us that there is no time for that. We could not afford to sit and wait for tactical teams to arrive and stage while lives were at risk. So we changed our strategy. We trained all of our front-line patrol officers how to respond to an active shooter. We saw that pay off in the April 30, 2007, shooting at Ward Parkway Center. Regular patrol officers arrived within three minutes of the first report of a shooting, entered the mall and stopped the shooter. Tragically, the shooter had killed two innocent people in the parking lot first, but the officers stopped him before he could kill anyone inside the mall.

On Friday, we put our regular beat officers on the front lines of this training exercise at Staley High School. We want them to be ready because they would be the ones responding to something like this. Our commanders were pleased overall with how the training went, and they’ll be meeting with Staley High School staff soon to get their feedback.

We did a similar training scenario at Fox Hill Elementary School last year, and we’ll likely do more in the future. We hope for the best – that a school shooting would never happen here – but we must prepare for the worst.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Check out Kansas City's 20 most wanted

The Kansas City Crimestoppers have put together a list of 20 of their most wanted fugitives. If you know where to find these people, you could get a reward of up to $1,000. You can either call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477), send an anonymous e-mail message at or text TIP452 and your information to CRIMES (274637). Any way you do it, you remain anonymous. Crimestoppers has purchased special "scrubbing" software to ensure this.

And don't forget about Crimestoppers' monthly Most Wanted newspaper sold around the metro. It's got hundreds of photos of fugitives. Never try to approach these people yourself because they could be dangerous. Contacting TIPS will notify police officers to go find them. Working together, we can get these most wanted people behind bars.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gaining insight from former mayors, police commissioners and chiefs

Today, a group of people who have been very important to the Kansas City Missouri Police Department came together to learn about the Department’s current initiatives and issues and give their input. This group included current and former members of the Board of Police Commissioners (including former mayors) and former Chiefs of Police. It was a treat to visit with everyone from the first female police commissioner – Faye Werner, who served from 1973 to 1976 – to former mayors Charles Wheeler and Richard Berkley.

Our command staff tries to have a luncheon like this at least once a year because these people still have a strong stake in Kansas City and its police department. They have their fingers on the pulse of the community and are a valuable source of input for us. Some of our topics of conversation included:

• The potential renewal of the quarter-cent Public Safety Sales Tax. Originally approved by voters in 2002, the tax is set to expire next year. We’re trying to get the renewal of the tax on the August 2010 ballot. By the time the current tax sunsets, it will have paid for three new patrol division stations (including the opening of the city’s sixth patrol division – Shoal Creek), the Kansas City Regional Police Academy, a Special Operations Division and debt service for a new radio system, among other things.

• The status of our recent and current capital projects, like the Academy and the new Metro Patrol Division (set to open around May of this year) and the new South Patrol/Special Operations Division complex (which is now in the design phase).

• The budget and how it has impacted our staffing levels and operations.

• Crime rates and trends throughout the city.

• Trends in professional law enforcement.

It was an informative time for everyone involved and a great opportunity to draw on the vast knowledge and experience these past and present civil servants have to offer. Below are the names of everyone who attended, who are pictured above:

Front row – left to right:
Current BOPC Secretary/Attorney Mischa Buford Epps (2009 to present)
First Lady Commissioner Faye Werner (1973-1976)
Former Commissioner Stacey Daniels-Young (1995-2002)
Former Commissioner Angela Wasson-Hunt (2003-2005)

Second row – left to right:
Former Mayor Richard Berkley (1979-1990)
Former Commissioner Terry Brady (2005-2009)
Current Board President Mark Thompson (2006-present)
Former Mayor Charles Wheeler (1973-1978)
Former Chief Floyd Bartch (1995-1999)

Third row – left to right:
Former Chief Richard Easley (1999-2004)
Former Secretary/Attorney Albert Riederer (1994-1996)
Former Commissioner Dennis Eckold (1998-2002)
Former Chief Larry Joiner (1984-1990)
Former Commissioner Bailus Tate (1987-1994)
Former Commissioner John Dillingham (1991-1994)
Current Board Vice-President Karl Zobrist (2000-present)
Former Commissioner’s Counsel W.H. Bates (1961-1965)
Current Commissioner Patrick McInerney (2009-present)
Former Commissioner Jeffrey Simon (1996-1999)
Current Chief James Corwin (2004-present)

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National praise for our new Vehicle Processing Facility

I posted Tuesday about the grand opening of our new Vehicle Processing Facility. At that event, I held up the latest issue of Evidence Technology Magazine. It's the national magazine for CSI professionals and has a great feature on our facility, describing all its details and uses. It's an interesting read you should check out.

We hope CSI units from other police departments around the country can see this article and use our state-of-the-art facililty as a model to develop their own forensics-specific garages. It's something that had been on our wish list for nearly 30 years (and we thank the City of Kansas City for funding its construction). But more than that, I can't wait to see how the building will generate high-quality evidence to solve cases right here in Kansas City.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beware fraudulent contractors claiming your roof is damaged

We've recently received several reports from the National Insurance Crime Bureau of unethical roofing contractors trying to drum up business in fraudulent ways. Three of these incidents have taken place in our jurisdiction of Kansas City, Mo., but many others have happened throughout the KC metropolitan area. We want to warn you to be on the lookout for this and to contact your homeowners' insurance company if you think you've been a victim.

The fraud works like this: contractors go door-to-door trying to convince homeowners that their roofs are damaged and in need of repair. In some cases, the scammers actually go on the roofs of houses and damage them intentionally so they need to be fixed. Investigators said the contractors are doing anything possible to convince the homeowners their roofs are damaged. Not knowing better, the homeowners contact their insurance companies and file claims. The scammers are trying to reap the rewards of insurance fraud, which is a felony.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) investigates fraudulent reports by looking for things like odd patterns of hail damage claims in the winter. Your insurance company should be aware of this scam by now, so please call them if you think you've dealt with a fraudulent contractor. The NICB will work to coordinate your information with our Fraud Unit, which is investigating the scam now.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Police unveil new building for conducting forensic investigations on vehicles


Kansas City Police now have a high-tech, secure facility in which to process vehicles used in crimes for evidence.

Police celebrated the opening of the new building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9. The Vehicle Processing Facility is located on the campus of the City’s new Vehicle Impound Facility. Media are invited to attend.

The Vehicle Processing Facility – or VPF – will provide a secure place for crime lab personnel to process vehicles for fingerprints, DNA and trace evidence like fibers and hairs.

“They get the full CSI treatment,” said Captain Jack Foster, KCPD Crime Lab commander.

One bay in the VPF is completely enclosed and dark so lab personnel can use Luminol to spot apparent blood stains. A scaled-down version of a crime lab is attached to the vehicle bays so investigators can use advanced finger-printing techniques and other chemical processes on site.

Captain Foster said the VPF has been sorely needed for many years. After an old fire station at 12th and Indiana got too run down for police to use some years ago, Crime Lab personnel have had to take vehicles with sensitive evidence to KCPD’s Fleet Operations building or sometimes to the police filling station at 1245 Prospect. The evidence vehicles would take up spaces in bays needed for police car repairs. After processing, those evidence cars would be left in an unsecured lot.

“Now we don’t have to worry about anyone tampering with the vehicles,” Captain Foster said.

Access to the VPF and its adjoining lot is largely restricted to Crime Lab personnel.

The $2.6 million building is 5,000 square feet and was designed to fit a semi truck and trailer inside. It features vehicle bays and lifts, a collapsible classroom, a small crime lab, offices and an adjoining lot to store evidence vehicles. The City of Kansas City paid to construct the building as part of its new Vehicle Impound Facility. The City is pursuing Silver LEED Certification for the facility’s environmental friendliness.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Technology brings Crime Lab and Homicide Unit closer

Another interesting story from this month's Informant newsletter discusses the recent technological advances that are bringing our Crime Lab personnel in on regular briefings and discussions about homicide cases. Ultimately, this should lead to solving more cases more quickly. Here's the story:

The distance from KCPD’s headquarters and the Regional Crime Lab is a lot shorter now, thanks to the new video-conferencing technology just installed in both locations.

When a homicide squad meets to discuss a case, a lab technician will now be able to participate right alongside the squad at Headquarters. The advantage is more than just the savings in travel time.

“Now we can have two-way visual and audio contact virtually at any time with the lab experts,” Homicide Sergeant Dave Bernard said “We also each have Visualizers.”

The Visualizer is a high-resolution device that allows the distant viewer at the lab to see documents and evidence in real time, just as the squad does. The lab technician could instruct a member of the homicide squad to pick up, rotate or turn over a piece of evidence, allowing the technician to examine it as if he or she were there.

The 2007 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant provided the funding for the video conferencing equipment in Violent Crimes and the Lab. The system involved the purchase of a 52” Plasma TV, two laptops, the two Visualizers, software and networking. The cost was just over $22,000.

Homicide Sergeant Barb Eckert hasn’t had a chance to use the new system yet.
“I’m anxious to see if it has the same feel as it does when you are sitting down in the same room with a person from the lab,” Sergeant Eckert said.

Once they mastered the operation of the equipment, the video-conferencing has become as natural to homicide detectives as any of their previous briefings before the addition of the lab. There’s no need to present to the camera as the camera captures the entire space. The lab technician simply becomes another person in the room.
After a couple of practice rounds, the squad was ready to do a live briefing.

“Even during the practice rounds, we were able to tell the lab personnel what to look for in the evidence recovered and how it relates to the crime,” Sergeant Bernard said.

The lab personnel, in turn, made suggestions on how to accomplish things that would facilitate their testing.

“I think it will be an effective tool once we get used to it,” Homicide Sergeant Keith Kirchhoff said. “I’m looking forward to the enhanced communication with the crime lab.”

Members of the Homicide Unit hope having the lab involved in such a personal and interactive way will be more than a convenience, but rather a way to improve investigations leading to quicker arrests.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Office of Community Complaints celebrates 40 years of community oversight

In 1970, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department's Office of Citizen Complaints (the name was later changed to Office of Community Complaints) formally began operation. Our monthly Informant newsletter discusses how the office came about during a divisive time in Kansas City's history and what it means today. The picture above is from our 1969 Annual Report and features OCC's original analysts Willie Walton on the right (he later became OCC's director) and John Halvey in the middle conducting an interview with an unidentified man.

Here's the Informant story:

In the thick of Kansas City’s civil rights debate, a battered and bandaged black man showed up in attorney Sidney Willens’ office on a Monday in February 1967.

The man, Claude, was a long-time tenant of Willens’. Through tears, Claude told Willens he had been on his way to work the previous night when two KCPD officers pulled him over, handcuffed him, threw him to the ground and beat him for no reason. Willens said he wasn’t sure whether to believe Claude when he said he’d done nothing to deserve the harsh treatment.

“But it had the ring of truth,” said Willens, now 83 years old and quasi-retired from practicing law.

Willens asked KCPD’s former lawyer Manford Maier and Chief Clarence Kelley if he could review the Internal Affairs file on Claude’s case. After looking at it, he was convinced “something funny was going on.” And thus began Willens’ uphill fight to start an independent, civilian review board for residents’ complaints against police.

Willens soon found four eye-witnesses to the beating who all said it was unprovoked and brutal. Former Chief Kelley allowed Willens to confront the officers, and they owned up to the truth. One was fired, the other suspended. But that didn’t ease the raging tensions between the black community and police. Riots took place the next year. On July 11, 1969, The Kansas City Star editorial board wrote, “There can be no question that, in recent years, relations between police and minority groups have deteriorated alarmingly.”

At about that time, 400 Kansas City police officers signed a petition against the idea of a civilian complaints office, but Willens persevered, writing a lengthy plan that stressed independent analysis and conciliation. He was finally able to convince Chief Kelley and the Board of Police Commissioners to formally open the Office of Citizen Complaints in 1970, in an office separate from the Police Department.

Kansas City was ahead of its time, says current Office of Community Complaints (the name was changed in 2004 to stress that anyone – not just U.S. citizens – had the right to file a complaint) Director Pearl Fain. After New York City, the Kansas City Police Department was the second in the nation to adopt a citizen oversight agency, making the office’s 40th anniversary all the more unique.

Chief James Corwin called OCC “a benchmark organization in the country.”

“The folks who set that up were pretty visionary,” Corwin said. “They allowed those with a bona fide complaint against police to have it investigated and resolved.”

Current Board of Police Commissioners Vice President Karl Zobrist said he is proud of the way OCC operates.

“Because the OCC reports to the civilian Police Board – not the Chief of Police or the Police Department – members of the public are assured their concerns are fairly and impartially investigated,” Zobrist said.

The Internal Affairs Unit still does the fact-finding in cases of complaints against police that don’t go through mediation, Fain said, but they turn those facts over to civilian OCC analysts who either send the file back for more information or make a recommendation as to whether the complaint is valid. The analysts then submit their findings to the Chief and Board, who determine punishment, if necessary.

“This system works because everyone has some stake in it – the citizens, the police and the Board,” Fain said. “I think it’s the perfect system.”

Zobrist agreed that OCC operates smoothly.

“For 40 years, this system has worked well to address community complaints and to mediate disputes that are the result of misunderstanding or miscommunication,” he said.

Corwin said the best evolution in OCC’s 40 years has been its move to try to mediate minor complaints instead of conducting full-blown investigations. Willens agreed this was important.

“Most people just want to hear someone say, ‘I’m sorry,’” he said.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

U.S. Military brings Iraqi leaders to study KCPD

We had some very special visitors today from the Baghdad Police College in Iraq. These four men have had the formidable task of raising up and training nearly 600,000 police officers for the entire nation of Iraq in a 7-year period. The U.S. Army selected the Kansas City Missouri Police Department as one of two in the nation for the Iraqi police officials to visit and learn training strategies from. The four men were escorted by U.S. Army Col. Randall Twitchell, who is currently stationed in Baghdad as chief adviser to the Baghdad Police College.

The visitors included:

* Major General Dr. Jasim Hassan Attia, who is Chief of the Training and Qualification Institute, Baghdad Police College. He also is Vice Deputy Minister of Training for Iraq. He is essentially responsible for the training of all 600,000 officers.

* Major General Ezat Nuail Aziz, who is Director General for the Delegations Institute. He is in charge of out-of-country training.

* Major General Riyadh Abdulbaqi Salman, who is dean of the three-year college program at Baghdad Police College.

* Colonel Sabah Hoshi Mohammed, who is Director for the Police Qualifications Center at the Baghdad Polcie College.

These VIPs also have visited the DEA, FBI and ATF in St. Louis and will soon check out Forts Leavenworth and Leanord Wood before going back to Iraq. The ATF arranged for their trip to the United States.

The leaders today said they were very impressed with the level of coordination and cooperation they saw among America's federal and local law enforcement agencies. They said they wanted the American public to know how much progress has been made in Iraq in the past several years and how far they've come in terms of peace and security. We are so happy they chose Kansas City Police as an agency to learn from, and we hope we have given them some great ideas to better train their police force to bring stability to their country.

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Man shot Jan. 31 has died

At 1:30 a.m. Jan. 31, police were called to 51st and Walrond on a shooting. Upon arrival, they located a shooting victim in the driver’s seat of a white Chevy Impala. He was transported to a local hospital by ambulance with life-threatening injuries. He has now died of his injuries and his been identified as 24-year-old Terrell Parker of Kansas City, Mo.

Witnesses said Parker was sitting in his vehicle when he was shot. Several people were observed fleeing the area. Anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The big Brrrr

As you may have seen on the news, this past Saturday was the annual Polar Plunge event for Special Olympics Missouri. It took place at a frigid Longview Lake. Special Olympics is the charity of choice for law enforcement, and many of our men and women braved the icy waters to raise money for this great cause. Here are some of their pictures from Saturday:

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Victim of homicide at Club Champs identified

At 1:43 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 31., police were called to Club Champs, 3900 Jackson, in regard to a shooting. Upon arrival, they located a shooting victim at a residence in the 3900 block of Jackson. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He has been identified as 29-year-old Dion Pettis of Kansas City, Mo. A second shooting victim (a black male in his late 30’s) was transported to a local hospital by private vehicle with non-life-threatening injuries.

Witnesses say the victims were involved in a disturbance in the parking lot with another group when shots were fired by an unknown person. There are no suspects in custody and anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477 (TIPS).

This is Kansas City's 7th homicide in 2010, compared to 6 at this time in 2009 and 10 in 2008.

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