Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A police department to be proud of

As I’ve discussed here, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department has committed to assisting Joplin, Mo., as it recovers from its tornado. We have 28 officers assigned there for at least the next two and a half weeks. This past weekend, we sent an additional 12 down to help with President Barack Obama’s visit. We also sent two technicians from our Fleet Unit and three specialists from our Communications and Communications Support units to help with logistics.

Board of Police Commissioners member Lisa Pelofsky spent the day with KCPD during the presidential visit on Sunday and reported back to me that she was bursting with pride about the department. She said, “I heard repeatedly from numerous other federal, state and local law enforcement that the KCPD was not only extremely well-trained but is one of the most professional law enforcement agencies in the country.”

She said it was apparent that both KCPD’s sworn and non-sworn members in Joplin were given the most important and some of the most dangerous duties during the past week and during the presidential visit. They kept combative, armed and violent individuals on the president’s route at bay, keeping not only President Obama but Joplin’s citizens safe. Commissioner Pelofsky said the officers were confident and never shaken. She said the damage in Joplin is “beyond comprehension,” but that “our efforts are making a difference there.”

I, too, am so proud of the men and women of this department. Deputy Chief Cy Ritter recently was criticized in a Kansas City Star editorial for calling our police department “one of the best in the country,” but I believe he was spot-on. When the situation is at its worst, KCPD is at its best. This never has been more evident than this past week in Joplin.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sergeant honored for saving man from burning truck

I presented Sergeant Thomas Clark with a Life-Saving Award on Tuesday, and it was well-deserved. Along with a DEA investigator (who received a Certificate of Appreciation) who stopped to help, Sergeant Clark was off-duty when he pulled a man from a burning truck just before it burst into flames.

On the night of December 23, 2010, Sergeant Thomas Clark was on his way home from an off-duty job traveling northbound on 169 Highway near the Wheeler Downtown Airport, when he saw a large orange glow. As he approached the glow, it became apparent that a white Chevrolet truck had been involved in an accident and the whole front end was on fire.

Sergeant Clark stopped and ran to the vehicle, opened the driver’s door and found the driver lying with his feet in the driver’s seat, his head on the floorboard of the passenger side, not moving, face covered in blood, and he appeared unconscious. To create distance in case of an explosion, Sergeant Clark quickly pulled the driver away from the burning truck with the assistance of DEA Agent Jon Ciarletta, who was also off-duty and who arrived shortly after Sgt. Clark.

Within moments of removing the driver to safety, the passenger compartment of the truck became fully engulfed in flames. Shortly after that the driver of the truck regained consciousness, they found out he was intoxicated.

Agent Ciarletta stayed with the driver while Sgt. Clark immediately notified the Fire Department, Ambulance and on-duty officers to handle the scene because the accident occurred within fifty yards of the Wheeler Downtown Airport aviation fuel tanks. The driver was taken to North Kansas City Hospital and was charged with careless driving and a DUI but recovered from his injuries.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

KCPD in Joplin for three more weeks

Kansas City Police have been requested to stay in Joplin for the next three weeks as tornado recovery continues. Tactical response reams and traffic enforcement squads will rotate every five days. Tactical Response Team 2 and a traffic squad are returning today, and Tactical Response Team 1 and another traffic squad will take their place.

KCPD is continuing to provide security through roving patrols and at St. John’s hospital.

The Kansas City Police Department also has been requested to assist with President Barack Obama’s visit to Joplin on Sunday.

And Kansas City's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 is collecting items to distribute to Joplin police officers who lost everything in Sunday's tornado through an "adopt-a-cop" program.

This is our department at its finest - lending a hand when we are needed. Speaking of that, please consider lending a hand to the family of Riverside Public Safety Officer Jeff Taylor. He had gone to Joplin to provide mutual aid just as our officers had, but he was struck by lightning while assisting with rescue operations. He's in critical condition at a Springfield hospital. A fund, the Taylor Benefit Account, has been established for his family and medical expenses at the Kansas City Police Credit Union. You can donate by sending money to the account at Kansas City Police Credit Union, 2800 E. 14th St., Kansas City, MO 64127. For more information, call the Credit Union at 816-504-2800 or toll-free at 800-338-8567.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Officer honored for saving Christmas for family

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting Officer Chad Fenwick with a Certificate of Commendation for his selfless acts this past Christmas. On Dec. 16, 2010, Officer Fenwick was dispatched to a disturbance at a house where he found a woman living with eight of her 10 children (the two oldest ones already had moved out on their own). She said her husband had beaten her badly, and she and the children had lived in and out of domestic violence shelters for more than a year before getting the house through aid.

Officer Fenwick saw the family had very little, and when he asked one of the children what she wanted for Christmas, the girl said, “peace.” The family’s plight weighed on him, so on Christmas Eve, he showed up with three large bags of gifts he’d purchased for everyone in the family. He called two other officers to help him communicate this with the mother, who spoke only Spanish. The translating officers were so touched, they, too, went and bought gifts for the family. The mother was so grateful that she invited all three officers over for Christmas dinner the next day.

As Officer Fenwick's commander, Captain Todd Paulson, put it, “Officer Fenwick’s actions were the reason that this family was able to have Christmas.”

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Police to conduct driver's license checkpoint Wednesday night


South Patrol Division and Traffic Investigation Section officers will conduct a driver’s license checkpoint May 25.

The checkpoint will take place from about 9 p.m. to midnight. Drivers will be briefly detained and asked to present their license. The locations of the checkpoints will be areas known for high numbers of alcohol- and drug-related crashes.

The majority of drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked have been convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Drivers who have no license or whose license has been revoked are 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Kansas City Police conducted six driver’s license checkpoints in 2010 and found that about 1 in 20 drivers was on the road illegally.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joplin assistance day 2

Thirty-two KCPD employees continue to provide assistance to tornado-stricken Joplin. One of our Tactical Response Teams and  a squad from the Traffice Enforcement Unit are taking turns providing round-the-clock security at the severely damaged St. John's hospital. Once a fence is erected around the site, these officers will be reassigned where they're needed.

Major Robin Houston and her trained canine worked with the Kansas City Fire Department until 3 a.m. last night doing search and rescue. They slept a few hours and then went back at it again this morning.

Other behind-the-scenes work at KCPD has been ongoing to provide financing and equipment to these officers and communications staff in Joplin.

We are scheduled to be in Joplin until at least Thursday. If it extends beyond that time, we'll relieve the officers there now and send new squads in. Those there now got called up at midnight Sunday night and had little time to prepare for the departure from their families. We appreciate their sacrifice.

We also stand ready to assist with security for President Barack Obama's planned visit to Joplin this Sunday, if our help is requested.

Our work in Joplin speaks to the importance of our local, regional and national partnerships. KCPD members are part of law enforcement organizations large and small, and those relationships have allowed us to assist those who need us as quickly as possible, and vice versa. Shortly after Sunday's devastating twister, KCPD's phones started ringing. We are honored to be assisting our southern neighbors through this heart-wrenching time.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Monday, May 23, 2011

KCPD assistance to Joplin

Our hearts go out to our southern neighbors in Joplin, Mo., who are coping with such indescribable loss right now after last night's tornado. We are providing assistance as requested and stand ready to offer more.

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department is sending one of our tactical response teams and a traffic enforcement squad to Joplin. They are on the road right now. One of our majors and her trained dog also have headed down there to assist with search and rescue. That’s a total of nearly 30 officers, and when they arrive, they’ll be assigned where need is greatest.

The manager of our 911 Call Center already is in Joplin, helping set up the command post there. He is joined by two of our communication support technicians. In Kansas City, these folks are responsible for all of our radio installation, maintenance and communication (as well as lights and sirens, computers and more), and they’re working in Joplin now to get vital communications up and running.

I’ll provide updates as the effort progresses.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meet your new Kansas City Police officers

Last night, I had the honor of swearing in 17 new Kansas City Missouri Police officers at their Police Academy graduation. This is a special group. Once they finish their break-in period with a field training officer in August, they'll hit the streets as part of our new foot patrol program in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Congratulations to these newly-minted KCPD officers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beware hacking on video game systems

Our Fraud Unit has investigated several cases in recent days involving video game systems. Users of cloud-based video game systems like X-Box and Play Station 3 have reported that their credit card information is being stolen from these devices. Victims have entered and stored their credit card information on these game systems to purchase games and other items and then found out someone else had hacked in and was using their credit card fraudulently. This has happened to video game users whose game systems are connected to the internet both with a wire line and wirelessly.

This is a nationwide problem (see this article from PC Magazine) and one that will require gamers to practice extra vigilance to protect their information.

To prevent becoming a victim of this technology-based crime, consider the following:

• Don’t tell anyone your user password or identification numbers.

• Do not store your credit or debit card number on the system or in an “account.” If your intentions are to use your credit or debit card number then make the entry for each purchase individually and do not store the number in the system or an account.

• Remain anonymous. Question the need to use your real identity, especially identifying information such as a date of birth or social security number.

• If you feel you have been a victim of a financial crime as a result of any type of “hacking,” or if your personal or financial information has been compromised, notify your financial institutions immediately.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Remembering those who gave all for this city

Today was our annual Police Memorial Service. We had to move it inside because of the rain, but the same sentiment was present: honoring all the officers who have died in the line of duty since this department began in 1874. Below are my remarks from this morning's event:

Thank you all very much for taking the time to come here today and honor the ultimate sacrifice made by 119 members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. They gave their lives to serving the public, and we should remember their selflessness more than one day a year.

In fact, in some ways we became complacent. Nationwide in 2009, police officer deaths fell to their lowest level in 50 years. We have now been blessed to go a decade without tragically losing a member of the KCPD family. We are well-trained. We have bullet-resistant vests and fast cars and technology. But we are not invincible. The surge of line-of duty deaths in 2010 and into this year proves we cannot fall into a false sense of security.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund recorded a 40 percent increase in line-of-duty deaths last year, with 162 officers killed across the United States. And to date this year, 12 more officers have been killed than in 2010. The majority of this year’s slayings have been from gunfire. National Memorial Fund Chairman Craig W. Floyd was right when he said, “A more brazen, cold-blooded criminal element is on the prowl in America, and they don’t think twice about killing a cop.”

From St. Petersburg, Florida, to Hoonah, Alaska, bold and heartless criminals killed multiple officers who were trying to uphold the law last year. Two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, were shot to death during a traffic stop by two anti-government activists. St. Petersburg hadn’t lost an officer in the line of duty for 30 years, but three were killed in 2010. Two died in January when a suspect hiding in the attic of a home shot at them from above. Another lost his life in February when he questioned a 16-year-old about a possible car theft, and the teen shot him four times.

While shootings are the leading cause of death of on-duty officers so far in 2011, traffic fatalities led the causes of death last year. There is a rising trend of officers being killed when they are standing outside of their cars, like a sergeant with the Sevier County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office who was killed on April 29, 2010. He was investigating a crash on an interstate. An SUV lost control on a patch of ice and hit the sergeant, throwing him off a bridge and down 200 feet to his death.

ut for luck and the grace of God, Kansas City Police stayed out of these statistics. On September 26, 2010, a KCPD officer was involved in a foot chase in Midtown when he got hold of a suspect’s shirt just as the suspect jumped into a vehicle. The suspect drove away, dragging the officer down the street. The officer, fortunately, survived with minor injuries.

Just after midnight on Christmas day last year, two officers were dispatched to a simple trespassing call at an apartment complex. They ended up wrestling with a man high on PCP who repeatedly tried to take their service weapons from them and use them against them. The man was unable to do so and was taken into custody.

And on January 24 of this year in the Old Northeast part of the city, officers responded to a hostage situation in which one man was holding another at gun point inside a home. The officers concealed themselves outside, and when the suspect came out the front door, he was holding a gun. The officers told him to put the gun down, but he instead pointed it at them. Officers fired first, injuring the suspect.

Any one of those incidents could have had a different and much more tragic outcome. It is a dangerous time to be a police officer in Kansas City and elsewhere. The men and women of this police department go on the job every day knowing they will encounter criminals who should have been put in jail long ago but are still on the streets with assault weapons and no respect for the law. Our officers know they will walk alongside highways to help a car crash victim when the only thing standing between them and speeding motorists is a line of paint. They know they will be criticized and disrespected. Most of all, they do their duties knowing their names may end up on this monument. This is true selflessness, and it is to be commended and honored.

Those whose names are etched onto the base of this statue knew the risks, too, but chose to stay in this noble and dangerous profession. They valued the safety of this city over their own. For that, we remember and honor them today.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police Memorial Service set for Thursday


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will honor its 119 officers killed in the line of duty throughout the department’s history with a Memorial Service beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 19, in front of Police Headquarters on Locust Street, between 11th and 12th streets.

The service will include an honor guard, a 21-gun salute from the steps of City Hall, the KCPD Color Guard, bagpipers, a flyover by the police helicopter, and a riderless horse representing fallen officers. Dispatcher L.C. Clark will read the names of all KCPD officers killed in the line of duty – the first in 1881 and the last in 2001. There will be 119 flags on display in front of Headquarters representing each one of these officers. For 119 hours preceding the service, dispatchers read one officer’s name per hour over the police radio system. The last officer’s name, Craig Schultz, will be read immediately before the ceremony begins Thursday.

Locust will be closed between 11th and 12th streets from about 7 a.m. to noon for the ceremony. In the event of rain, the ceremony will take place inside the basement of police headquarters, which can be accessed from 12th Street. The public is invited to attend.

My impending retirement

I am announcing today that I will retire as Chief of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department on September 16, 2011. That will be the final day of my 32nd year with the department, and I will leave in compliance with the 32-years-of service mandatory retirement policy. In the mean time, I will work closely with the Board of Police Commissioners to make the transition to new leadership as smooth as possible. Thank you all so much for your support throughout the years, especially the last seven that I have been Chief. Serving alongside the incredible men and women of this police department has been one of my greatest honors.
Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recent homicide victims idenfitied

Three people were killed in Kansas City since this time last week, and we need your help identifying their murderers.

May 10: At about 8:30 p.m., officers were called to the 6600 block of Monroe and found 24-year-old Maurice D. Clark of Kansas City, Mo., outside an apartment building. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Witnesses said Clark, two other males and a female were walking down the street when a black male suspect shot Clark and fled on foot.

May 11: Officers went to 39th and Chestnut on a shooting call at about 3:45 a.m. They found 33-year-old Jeannette M. Carroll of Kansas City, Mo., dead. A witness said Carroll was arguing with a black man about 40 years old before being shot. The suspect fled in a black Ford Explorer.

May 15: At 3:22 p.m., officers were dispatched to the 9300 block of Bales on a shooting. They found 29-year-old Sorie Mansaray of Kansas City, Mo., dead in the grass outside an apartment building. Police found a handgun nearby and have little other suspect information.

These are Kansas City's 29th, 30th and 31st homicides in 2011 compared to 38 at this time last year and 42 at this time in 2009. Please help us solve them. If you have any information about them, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Another homicide took place May 12 at Bledsoe's Rentals at 50th and Prospect. David Bledsoe, 50, was shot and killed at his business. Detectives have three people in custody for that killing, and charges are expected soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Police retirement system is responsible, well-managed

I wrote the below as an As I See It column that was published in today's Kansas City Star:

Recent editorials and columns in the Kansas City Star proclaim the need for public pension reform in Kansas City. These articles left out some important information about the Kansas City Police Employees’ Retirement System (KCPERS) for sworn officers. The Board of Police Commissioners and I strongly stand behind our retirement system and ask you to consider some of the below facts.

Police officers contribute 10.55 percent of every paycheck to KCPERS. That is more than many other public employees pay: According to their respective web sites, Alabama teachers contribute just 5 percent of their salary to their pension system, New Jersey police and firefighters contribute 8.5 percent, and Ohio police and firefighters contribute 10 percent. Missouri just began requiring new state employees in 2010 to contribute to their pension. Previously, it was entirely state-funded.

The editorials also mentioned that the City has been under-funding its system. Actuaries, as part of their annual analysis, determined the City should have contributed more. The City has under-funded the police pension system, based on actuarial analysis, the last eight years.

Police do not pay into Social Security and thus do not have it to fall back on when they retire like most other U.S. workers. The most an officer can receive at his or her retirement is 75 percent of his or her annual salary at the time the officer reached 30 years of service. One Star column even said, “These figures do not include money invested by officers in individual retirement accounts. They also don’t account for salaries and retirement benefits retirees receive from any jobs after leaving the Police Department.”

I find it strange anyone would take issue with a strong work ethic and sound money management practices.

The Board of Police Commissioners recently voted to extend mandatory retirement from 30 to 32 years of service, thus reducing the amount of time police will draw on the pension. Board Vice President Alvin Brooks said at a recent meeting that being a police officer “is a young man’s game.” He is right. It is a physically and psychologically demanding position that generally requires an earlier retirement than a standard desk job. KCPD retirees live to an average age of 72. That’s six years below the national average life expectancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, officers are held to a high standard and subjected to intense public scrutiny, as they should be. But reasonable pay and retirement benefits are necessary to attract and retain quality employees. Additionally, providing those who have served the community for decades with a reasonable standard of living is good not just for the retiree but for the whole community. It keeps retirees living, paying taxes and spending in the city. 

Many public pension systems are under attack nationwide right now, and some do deserve scrutiny. The Kansas City Police Employees Retirement System, however, is by no means the kind of extravagant, Cadillac plan that has come under fire in other cities and states. It is very transparent and managed by a board composed of local business leaders and retired and active police employees. Cost-of-living adjustments are approved by the Retirement Board on an annual basis based on the previous year’s actuarial analysis. Based on this analysis in 2009, there was no increase in 2010, for example. You can learn all about the plan at www.kcpers.org.  

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, May 13, 2011

Congratulations, KCPD Spanish Immersion graduates

Today, 12 officers graduated from our fifth annual Spanish Immersion program. They are pictured above with their professor, Lucia Villanueva. These officers were taken out of their assignments for 10 weeks to intensively study Spanish. They completed the equivalent of four college semesters of Spanish instruction in this time period. Five of them- those with the top GPAs - have been selected to go to Morelia, Mexico (which is in the state of Michoacan),  for five weeks to stay with host families and further their Spanish studies by taking two more semesters' worth of language and culture. Officers from past KCPD Spanish immersion programs have reported on their experiences there.

During this intensive 10-week course, these 12 officers got one week for spring break. But they didn't stop their studies. Instead, they went out into schools like Alta Vista Charter Middle School and organizations like the Don Bosco Senior Center as "community volunteers." They showed up in plain clothes Monday through Thursday, volunteering alongside the children and seniors, and didn't reveal they were police officers until the Friday of that week. Spanish Immersion program director Officer Lynda Hacker said many of the school children asked repeatedly, "You're really a policeman?" when they found out. We now have even stronger relationships with the future of this city - the children in those schools.

A total of 92 KCPD officers now have graduated from the Spanish Immersion program. Why have we spent the time and money to take these officers off the streets each year to teach them Spanish? The answer is simple: to communicate with those we serve. We are charged with protecting life and property and reducing fear and disorder for everyone who lives, works or plays in the 319 square miles that comprise Kansas City, Mo. In the last 15 years or so, we found we were unable to communicate with some of those we serve. Through this program, we can. We can build trust and learn who the bad guys are and get them off the streets.

Jacob Prada, who serves as the Mexican Consulate General in Kansas City, drove home during his speech at the graduation why this is becoming more important. He said the U.S. Census recorded an increase of 18,000 people to Kansas City's population from 2000 to 2010. Of those 18,000 new people here, 15,000 were Hispanic. That's 5 out of 6. It is incredibly important for the safey of everyone in Kansas City that we have conversations and relationships with these residents. Thanks to the 12 officers who graduated today and the 80 others who have gone before them, we can.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

KCPD and alternative fuels

The December issue of our Informant newsletter discussed the Kansas City Police Department testing out some alternative fuels for our fleet of vehicles. We're no longer just dipping our toes in. We've committed 12 vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and are considering LPG/propane, as well.

KCPD's fleet of vehicles uses about 1.3 million gallons of fuel annually. With gas prices as high and volatile as they've been lately, it is incumbent on us to be prudent with taxpayer dollars by investigating cheaper alternatives to gasoline. With federal stimulus grant funding, we purchased two Chevy Impalas that run on CNG at the end of 2010. They're having radios installed right now and will be out on the streets very soon. Ten Ford Crown Victorias also are about to be converted to run on CNG. These twelve vehicles will be assigned as "administrative cars," meaning they will be used either by commanders or detectives. They will not be used in patrol. The primary reason for that is because the CNG tanks housed in the cars' trunks take up a decent amount of room and don't leave enough space for the considerable equipment patrol officers must have in their vehicles.

Our Fleet Operations unit also is considering purchasing a van for our Supply Section that runs on liquid propane, as well.

Compressed Natural Gas currently costs about $1.40 per gallon, and propane is about $2.86 (although they have different calorific values). Both fuels are produced domestically. CNG and liquid propane both are less likely to ignite in a crash than gasoline, and they both produce lower polluting emissions.

This also is the last year Ford is making the police staple Crown Victoria, and we're looking at a number of possibilities for its replacement. Fuel economy will be an important factor.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The future East Patrol Division / Crime Lab campus - where do you think it should be?

Thanks to Kansas City voters renewing the quarter-cent public safety sales tax in November 2010, we are moving forward with capital improvement plans. First on the list is a new campus to house the East Patrol Division and Crime Lab. We're working with the City Architect's Office, City Manager's Office, City Council members and the Mayor to find the perfect spot for these buildings, and we'd like your suggestions.

Below are some of the factors that will be considered:
* Cost
* Size and shape of the site - it needs to be 12 to 15 acres
* Public accessibility (both by vehicles and pedestrians)
* Visibility of the surrounding area and security
* Possible environmental hazards or contamination
* Sufficient distance from railroad tracks and major highways to protect the Crime Lab from ground vibrations
* An opportunity to build in a blighted area in order to serve as an anchor for neighborhood improvement.

If you have an idea of where you think would be the perfect spot for the new East Patrol and Crime Lab, go to www.saferkc.com/east to submit your suggestions.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pictures from today's bench dedication for fallen Officer Craig Schultz

Today, I had the privilege of attending the bench dedication of Officer Craig Schultz, who was killed in the line of duty exactly 10 years ago on May 9, 2001. Captain Todd Paulson raised the funds for the bench that was near the head of the Trail of Heroes. Below are some of the pictures of this morning's event. I'm so glad Officer Schultz's family and work family could attend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Last fallen officer to be honored on Trail of Heroes on Monday

On May 9, 2001, Officer Craig Schultz responded to a roll-over crash on I-29 and was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was 36 years old, an 11-year veteran of the police department and left behind a wife and two young daughters. His was the 119th and most recent line-of-duty death for a Kansas City Missouri Police officer.

On Monday, the 10th anniversary of his death, his family, colleagues and friends will pay tribute to Officer Schultz at the Trail of Heroes on the campus of the Shoal Creek Patrol Division and Police Academy. A bench will be dedicated in his honor near the head of the trail. It will be both solemn and celebratory: solemn in marking a life that was cut far too short and grieving the decade that he wasn't with his family or colleagues; but celebratory in marking a life well-lived and marking that no other KCPD officer has died in the line of duty for 10 years, the longest time period in the history of the department. We fervently pray that it will never happen again.

Go to http://www.trailofheroes.com/ for more information about where the trail is and who it honors. Then go visit it in person.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.rog.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Police take down major marijuana-trafficking ring with ties to Jamaica

A big congratulations to our Drug Enforcement Unit, whose investigation, along with that of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, culminated in a jury finding eight drug traffickers guilty last week.

In 2008, the DEA and KCPD Drug Enforcement Unit began a large-scale investigation into the drug trafficking activities of Gladstone McDowell. McDowell was a career narcotics trafficker in the Kansas City metropolitan area. During the investigation, DEA and KCPD identified that the McDowell was part of a large-scale international organization that trafficked large amounts of high-grade marijuana throughout the United States with ties to Jamaica.

After a two-year investigation, 20 people were federally indicted in the U.S. District Court in Kansas for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering. Of the 20 who were indicted, nine went to trial, and the other 11 pleaded guilty. 

On April 28, 2011, the jury rendered guilty verdicts for 8 of the 9 defendants.

During the two-year investigation, the following evidence and assets were recovered/seized:

-1500 pounds of marijuana
-9 real-estate properties belonging to the drug trafficking organization 
-$170,000 in cash in Kansas City, Mo
-8 vehicles belonging to the drug trafficking organization

Gladstone McDowell, 60,  faces life in federal prison for his involvement in this organization.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

See something, say something

It was somewhat prescient that at last month’s Metro Chiefs and Sheriffs Association meeting, our guest speaker was Bob Kolenda, the director of the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Inter-Agency Watch Center. Our Homeland Security Unit as well as many other area local, state and federal law enforcement agencies participate in this agency to monitor trends and assess threats that could result in terrorist attacks.

Although our Homeland Security Unit has reported there are no specific threats at this time, given the recent focus on the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist, it seems a good time to remind the public of the important role you play in detecting and reporting potential terrorist activity. Last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano launched the “See Something, Say Something” campaign. This initiative encourages regular citizens to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviors and to report them to law enforcement. Before any of the recent events, Director Kolenda reminded local police chiefs last month of the importance of this program, pointing out that the best resources law enforcement has for detecting potential terrorist behavior is you.

Terrorist experts recognize eight signs of terrorism. Terrorist operations usually begin with extensive planning, and these eight things are what to look out for. It is important to note that you should not report anything based on race, gender or religion – only suspicious behavior. Keep in mind domestic terrorism (like the Oklahoma City bombing) is just as real a threat as terrorists from overseas. The video at our Kansas City Terrorism Early Warming Group’s web site (it was produced by the Colorado Information Analysis Center) does a good job explaining the below eight signs of terrorism:

1.) Surveillance and Photography – Demonstrating an unusual interest in facilities, buildings or infrastructure that a reasonable person would consider suspicious. Examples include using binoculars, taking notes and attempting to measure distances. Taking pictures or video of infrequently used access points, security personnel carrying out their duties or security-related equipment.
2.) Elicitation – Questioning individuals at a level beyond mere curiosity about particular facets of a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures, etc.
3.) Testing security – Challenging security installations, personnel, systems, and cyber security.
4.) Funding – Making unusually large transactions with cash or gift cards; making large donations to a charity you’ve never heard of.
5.) Acquiring supplies – Acquiring unusual amounts of precursor materials like cell phones, pagers, fuel, timers and weapons
6.) Impersonation – Pretending to be a law enforcement, government or security official or company employee to gain more information or access.
7.) Rehearsal – Putting operatives in position, monitoring police radios, measuring emergency response times.
8.) Deployment – Arranging assets, positioning players, carrying out an attack. Call 911 immediately if you witness this.

You can report any of these things to the Kansas City Terrorism Early Warning Center, which has partnered with the TIPS Hotline, at 816-474-TIPS; KCPD’s Homeland Security Unit at 816-889-6130; your local law enforcement agency; or the Kansas City FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force at 816-512-8200. If you sense an impending emergency, call 911. You can even report suspicious activity online.

Many people think terrorism doesn’t happen in places like Kansas City, but check out these steadily rising statistics from our Homeland Security Unit about local investigations into reasonably suspicious terrorist activities:

And just last year, KCPD and the Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated Khalid Ouazzani, a Kansas City resident who later pleaded guilty in federal court to supporting the terrorist group Al-Qaida.

In summation, we need your eyes and ears to keep Kansas City and America a safe place to live, work and play. If you see something, say something.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Monday, May 2, 2011

False alarm fees increased May 1


False alarms just became a little more costly for Kansas City residents.

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department increased annual renewal fees from $40 to $49 per year, depending on the number of false security system alarms, beginning May 1, 2011. The increase applies to both residential and business alarm users. Residential users are allowed two free false alarms and will now be charged $49 for each subsequent false alarm up to $147. Businesses pay $49 for each false alarm. Residents and businesses are not required to pay the annual renewal fee if they have had no false alarm. New permit fees have not changed. Police will not respond to alarms not registered with KCPD.

The purpose of the city’s false alarm ordinance is to minimize the number of false alarm dispatches, thereby keeping more officers available for emergency calls. About 97 percent of Kansas City’s security alarms are false alarms. The ordinance defines a false alarm as “an alarm signal eliciting a police response when a situation requiring immediate response does not in fact exist.”

The Board of Police Commissioners revised the alarm renewal fee based on how many false alarms police respond to and the manpower and other costs involved with doing so.

To minimize the number of false alarm dispatches, KCPD’s Private Alarm Section urges all alarm users to ensure the reliability of their system by properly training everyone who uses it and scheduling routine maintenance. Below is the new fee schedule set by the Board of Police Commissioners:

New residential alarm permit $45
New business alarm permit $45
New master permit (apartments) $45
Annual renewal fee – residential $0 (two or fewer false alarms)
Annual renewal fee – residential $49 per false alarm exceeding two ($147 maximum)
Annual renewal fee – business $0 (no false alarms)
Annual renewal fee – business $49 per false alarm (no maximum)

For more information, go to the Alarm Permits web page.