Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 homicides

Barring more tragedy today or tomorrow, Kansas City will wrap up 2011 with 114 homicides. Whether we have 114 or 75, that’s still too many. As I’ll discuss more in a bit, police can’t prevent many of these killings, but it is our duty to quickly apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice. So far, 69 homicides this year have been cleared, with an additional six cases awaiting review at the prosecutor’s office. That’s about a 66 percent clearance rate, which is better than this time last year, when we were below 50 percent.

We’re analyzing every single homicide within 24 hours of occurrence. Since I have taken office as chief, I have gone to every homicide scene but two. We’ve noticed increased citizen cooperation in solving these crimes. On Christmas Eve, as a matter of fact, a citizen came forward with a great description of the suspect who killed Darnell Pearson at 43rd and Harrison. With that description, police were able to apprehend the suspect within minutes. Had that witness not stepped forward, the killer very likely would still be on the loose.

I also would like to thank the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department – the officers and the support staff – who give their all every day to find and stop those who perpetrate crime in our city. Police cannot solve homicides alone, however. Community participation is vital, as is the cooperation of others in the criminal justice system. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office is working with us on our hot spot initiative (more on that to come soon), and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department also is assisting us with resources in crime hot spots. Additionally, City Codes Enforcement and the City Manager’s office have been very helpful in their willingness to demolish unstable structures where criminal activity persistently takes place. I thank them for making the removal of these buildings a priority.

But many of these killings law enforcement can never prevent. In October of this year, Kansas City had just two homicides, but in November there were 17. KCPD did nothing substantially different from one month to the next, yet murders increased more than eight-fold. Additionally, 12 out of November’s 17 homicides took place within structures – mostly residences – and 4 were in cars. The only homicide that happened outside was when police shot and killed a homicide suspect who was firing at them. I point this out not only to say there is little police can do alone to prevent many of the city’s murders (we can’t be at your dinner table when a fight breaks out) but also to show that these crimes aren’t random. In the vast majority of our homicides, the victims and suspects knew each other.

The average, law-abiding Kansas City resident needn’t be fearful. Lifestyle has a significant impact on your chance of becoming a victim. If you are involved in criminal activity or associate with those who are, you are more likely to be killed or shot. Kansas City had more than 1,000 aggravated assaults with firearms in 2011, accounting for more than 500 injuries. Had those bullets landed a little differently, they, too, could have been homicides. But like homicide victims, many of those shot in 2011 were leading very risky lifestyles.

Many of Kansas City’s killings are simply the results of poor conflict resolution skills. Detectives have identified motives in 69 of this year’s homicides. Of those 69, nearly a third – 22 – were arguments. A simple dispute in which someone ended up dead.

Reducing violent crime will require the involvement of the entire community. Police can’t do it alone. We greatly appreciate those residents, business owners, faith leaders, organizations and others who have partnered with us in these prevention and apprehension efforts. As for what police can do, the hot-spot policing strategy is something I knew needed to be done immediately, but there will be other, more long-term strategies coming into place in the future.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Suspects sought in multiple robberies

We're looking for two men who may be responsible for multiple robberies in the past few weeks, including four at Church's Chicken restaurants. Below are surveillance videos from two of those robberies, the most recent on Dec. 27 at 11500 Blue Ridge (the second time it was robbed) and the second at 9325 Blue Ridge on Dec. 16. The suspects are about 6 feet tall and wear dark, hooded jackets. If you have information, you could get a financial reward by calling the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A big thank you to the J.B. Reynolds Foundation

I want to say a big thank you to the J.B. Reynolds Foundation, which has an annual tradition of making the holidays merrier for the non-profits that support the KCPD. This year, Web Bixby of the J.B. Reynolds Foundation presented checks to the Police Athletic League, KCPD CARE Team and Friends of the Mounted Patrol totaling more than $22,500. That's $2,800 more than the Foundation donated last year. Here's a little more about the charities the money will support:

The mission of PAL is to offer youth the opportunity to interact with police officers in a positive setting while participating in cultural, mentoring and sports programs, with the main emphasis placed on academics. At the 1801 White PAL Center, inner-city children participate in everything from tutoring to basketball to boxing to computer classes, all for little to no cost. PAL is a nonprofit organization supervised by KCPD officers.

Captain James Thomas accepted the $10,000 check on behalf of PAL from Web Bixby.

The KCPD CARE Team is a non-profit organization that assists members of KCPD and their families in times of need. 

Supervisor and KCPD Victim Advocate accepted the $7,500 check on behalf of the CARE Team.

This organization was formed with the purpose of supporting KCPD's Mounted Patrol Section by providing funds for additional training, equipment and veterinary care for the Section's horses.

Major Anthony Ell of the Patrol Bureau accepted the Mounted Patrol Check of $5,000.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Check out the latest Narcotics and Vice Quarterly newsletter

The newest edition of the Narcotics and Vice Quarterly newsletter is available online. This newsletter lets you know about trends in drug and drug-related crimes in Kansas City. This edition features stories about the resurgence of heroin in Kansas City, where you can drop off old prescription drugs, a profile of the Metro Meth Section, the latest synthetic drug and statistics on drugs and weapons recovered in the third quarter of 2011. Check it out here.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Police release sketches of suspect in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman


Kansas City Police are releasing two composite sketches of a man suspected of sexually assaulting a 71-year-old woman multiple times Dec. 15.

At about 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, a man confronted the woman in her home in the 3200 block of East 10th Street. He remained in her apartment and repeatedly sexually assaulted her over the course of several hours.

The victim worked with a forensic sketch artist and detectives to produce two sketches of the suspect: one of his face, and one of unique scarring on his left arm. He is described as a “wiry” black male approximately 35 to 40 years old who is about 6 feet tall and 165 to 175 pounds. He is bald but wore a black silk cloth tied around his head. He has a medium complexion, brown eyes, and a goatee and mustache. The victim said the suspect is soft-spoken and has a lower voice. He was wearing black clothing. He also has two scars on his left forearm that appeared to be from burns.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Please note: A composite is not a portrait of one person, but a grouping of characteristics to put people into a category that narrows the search and eliminates other groups. It is intended to place the focus on a smaller grouping of individuals.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Officers honored for helping homeless woman get home, income

Today I presented a Certificate of Commendation to two officers who really went above and beyond. They helped a homeless woman get a home and income. Here's their story:

In April of this year, Officers Kenny Miller and Doug Harr came in contact with Teresa, a homeless woman begging for money and living under a bridge. Officers Miller and Harr asked Teresa how she had gotten to this point in her life. She said that her husband, who spent eight years in the military, had died two years ago. That left her with no income, and she lost her house. She had applied for his death benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009 but never heard back from them.

Officers Miller and Harr followed up, contacting the appropriate people at Veterans Affairs. They found that Teresa had applied for the benefits but her case was closed because the VA could not find her. They then were told that if they could provide the VA with Teresa’s marriage certificate, the case could be re-opened and processed. Realizing she had some cognitive disabilities, the officers went to work helping Teresa with the necessary paperwork.

They contacted the Platte County records clerk, got Teresa’s marriage license mailed to Central Patrol Division, and gave her a ride to the VA to work with a benefits specialist who re-opened her case. The dedication and persistence of these two officers allowed Teresa to get what she was entitled to: more than $650 a month in benefits with several months of back pay.

Officers Miller and Harr did not stop there. They continued to assist Teresa with every phone call, coordinating all necessary paperwork and getting her in touch with Assertive Community Outreach for case management and supportive housing services. Teresa now has her own apartment and sent Officers Harr and Miller Christmas cards.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pitch profile

Pitch Magazine's Jonathan Bender wrote a nice profile on me that's out this week. I appreciate the chance to get my message out there and hope part of the headline, "A city without victims," comes to pass. You can read the story here.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

KCPD escorts Secret Santa

Every year around this time, officers of the Kansas City Police Department get the privilege of escorting Kansas City's Secret Santa. They did so yesterday. This generous Santa has picked up where the original Secret Santa left off. Larry Stewart passed away in 2007 after leaving a legacy of helping those who were down and out throughout the city by passing out money to them around Christmas time.

This year, Santa even let Mayor Sly James and some of the officers help out as elves yesterday. You can see more pictures in the album on our Facebook page.

The officers and Santa - we've gotta keep him secret!

Santa let our officers pass out some money to deserving people, too.

Police escort and provide protection for Secret Santa and his elves when they distribute money.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Operation Safe Holiday targets property crimes north of the River


Detectives and officers in the Shoal Creek and North patrol divisions are conducting a multi-faceted project this week to target property crimes offenders and educate the public about how to avoid being victims.

Operation Safe Holiday will target suspects of property crimes and educate the public on theft prevention Dec. 12 to 15.

A large reason for the project is to stop the increase police typically see in cars stolen when the weather turns cold. Sergeant Daniel Graves of the Shoal Creek Property Crimes Section said many are stolen when left on and unattended.

“As the weather has changed, we’ve seen a big increase in stolen vehicles where people left them running to warm up,” he said.

To prevent this, police will be out at convenience stores (a common place vehicles are left running unattended) to issue warnings and possibly citations to drivers who leave their vehicles on with no one inside. City Ordinance 70-251 bans leaving a vehicle running unattended.

Officers also will be out at major Northland retail areas passing out tips to keep cars from being broken into. Thefts from vehicles usually rise during the holidays but are easily preventable. Citizens should not leave items of value in their vehicles.

Finally, officers will be working with area residents on burglary prevention. At residents’ requests, police will conduct security surveys of residents’ homes to show them ways to prevent crime such as proper door locks, lighting, and recording serial numbers of valuable items.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Police give back

Another great article from our December Informant newsletter explaining the generosity of a few KCPD members:

The small acts of kindness police do every day rarely make headlines: buying a meal for a hungry child, finding homes for stray animals, helping someone with home repair.

But as the season of giving approaches, it’s worth pointing out just a few stories of the generosity of KCPD members.

The gift of sight
Officer Shawnie Nix with the Police Athletic League (PAL) said she “tries to take care of my kids.” PAL provides after-school athletic and academic opportunities for at-risk children and teenagers in the urban core. Officer Nix coaches the boxing program. Her supervisor, Sergeant Brad Deichler, said she has a huge heart, buying the girls she coaches Christmas gifts, meals and taking them to Chiefs and Royals games – all out of her own pocket.

Officer Nix noticed that 13-year-old Dakota Masquat was having trouble seeing the exercises written on the board in the gym. Dakota boxes at PAL four nights a week, and Officer Nix asked her if she had trouble seeing at school, too. The girl admitted she couldn’t see the board well there, either. But Officer Nix knew there was little chance Dakota would get the vision care she needed because she lives with her grandmother, who is disabled, lives on a restricted income and has no form of transportation.

So Officer Nix took it upon herself to find a way to get Dakota glasses. She did some research and found the One Sight organization was going to be in town in November. The non-profit provides vision care and glasses to those who can’t afford it. They brought a mobile unit to Union Station, so on her day off, Nov. 9, Officer Nix picked up Dakota and took her to it. Dakota said she learned one eye had 20/40 vision, and the other 20/70. While she had glasses made to her specifications, she got to visit the exhibits at Union Station. She said she sees much better now and wears her glasses all the time in class.

When asked why she went to all the work for Dakota, Officer Nix said, “Because she needed it.”

Shattered glass
Detective Alane Booth of the Homicide Unit was doing her twice-yearly assignment in patrol with Officer Michael Feagans in Center Zone when they responded to a disturbance between neighbors Nov. 26. One couple had taken in a hungry dog and paid adoption fees to the city animal shelter, but teens down the street insisted the dog was theirs, and came threatening the couple. They called police and returned the dog to the teenagers. But the teens came back and threw a pick-axe in the windshield of the couple’s only vehicle, mad that they’d called police.

This made Booth and Feagans angry.

“They did nothing to bring this property damage on themselves – no drama or bad decision-making,” Detective Booth said. “I could just see their desire to help this poor dog, and all they got was backlash and retaliation.”

As they were taking the report, the officers learned the wife had epilepsy and possibly breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy soon. Without a car, she couldn’t make it to her doctor’s appointments. Detective Booth told her she would do what she could to get their windshield replaced.

She searched charities online and eventually got in touch with a local television reporter, asking if he knew anyone who could help. He connected her with the Cars 4 Christmas organization, which connected her with someone who would go to the couple’s home and replace the windshield for free. Their windshield was replaced Dec. 1 at no cost.

But Detective Booth wanted to ensure the dog was taken care of, too. She notified Chain of Hope, an organization that works to end animal abuse and neglect in the inner city, to keep tabs on the dog’s welfare.

Above and beyond all year long
Three separate people notified the Media Unit of Crime Scene Technician Supervisor Melanie Bartch’s quiet, year-round generosity. On her own, she has adopted a homeless camp and collects and delivers items there on a monthly basis, including coats, pillows, socks, long underwear, hats, gloves, canned goods, bottled water, hand warmers and books.

When her son was serving in the military overseas, she gathered supplies to send not just to him but to his entire unit. When she heard about a soldier in the unit who had not received any mail since his deployment, she spread the word to ensure he got cards for the holidays.

She’s also rescued countless cats and dogs, finding them loving homes.

Her colleagues recognize her generosity.

“She is so giving to whomever and whatever,” one said. “She has a big heart and is constantly helping others.”

So many more
Every day, members of the Kansas City Police Department do something to help the suffering they encounter. Many have adopted needy families for Christmas. Others are helping organize a city-wide Christmas day dinner for the elderly and lonely who have nowhere else to go. Some buy and deliver food to needy families. One officer organized a drive to help a family who lost everything in a November fire rebuild their lives. The officers of the PAL Unit have an annual Christmas party for children and teens who wouldn’t otherwise expect much under the tree. These acts of generosity aren’t written in any policies, they’re just ingrained into the people of the Kansas City Police Department.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Conservation Department thanks Mounted Patrol for help in managed park hunts, catching poacher


The Missouri Department of Conservation recognized the KCPD Mounted Patrol Section for their assistance in managed deer hunts in Swope Park.

Yesterday, the Conservation Department thanked the officers for their help monitoring managed archery hunts in 2010 and 2011 and apprehending a poacher. The Mounted Patrol’s stables are located in Swope Park and serve as a check-in station for the archery deer hunt, which this year runs from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31. So far in 2011, 27 deer have been checked in at the stables.

“Your amazing cooperation has taken a huge load off us,” Urban Wildlife Biologist Joe DeBold of the Missouri Department of Conservation told the Mounted Patrol officers.

DeBold also presented the officers with the mounted rack of a deer that was poached in Swope Park during October 2010. Two Mounted Patrol officers apprehended the suspect, who shot the deer with a bow while trespassing and when hunting was not allowed. The suspect was cited and prosecuted and had to forfeit the eight-point buck.

KCPD’s Mounted Patrol officers and the members of the Missouri Department of Conservation plan to continue their close working relationship in Swope Park and throughout Kansas City.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Police driving instructors to mentor students in car-building program

Our December Informant newsletter has an interesting story about a collaboration between a group that seeks to teach inner-city kids skills by building electrical vehicles and the KCPD. Check out the story below and the video at the end:

What started as providing a set for a documentary film turned into a mentoring opportunity for the Kansas City Police Academy driving instructors.

This fall, owners and mentors from MINDDRIVE and a film crew from L.A., working for Translogic-AOL, did a film shoot at KCPD’s own Police Academy driving course, covering a story on MINDDRIVE’s car and program.

According to their web site, MINDDRIVE is a non-profit, after-school program for at-risk high school students that uses experiential learning methods administered by instructors and mentors. 

MINDDRIVE inspires students to learn, expand their vision of the future and have a positive influence on urban workforce development. They achieve this by teaching the students how to build a car. By doing this, the students have progressed into welders, battery experts and even working with MINDDRIVE’s web site and social media.

After learning of MINDDRIVE and all the good it does for the urban core of Kansas City, the instructors from the Academy decided this would be a great opportunity to help.

“We have a community responsibility over and above fighting crime,” Director Rick Brisbin of the Special Projects Section said. “We want to be more of a role model for these kids.”

In addition to letting them test drive the car they built on KCPD’s driving course, the Academy driving instructors plan to put together a course for these students to teach them how to drive and prepare them to take their drivers’ license tests.

Those who are old enough to drive will definitely need their license. They are planning a coast-to-coast trip in March 2012. Project Reynard, MINDDRIVE’s second car, will be driven non-stop from San Diego, Calif., to Jacksonville, FL using quick-charge technology. They plan to split the trip into two segments and fly half of the students to San Diego who will travel to San Antonio, Texas. Then, they will fly home, and the other half will fly in and continue their trip to Jacksonville, Fla.

They hope to find a sponsor to send all of the students to Washington DC to have their car displayed at the Capital building at the end of their successful demonstration run.

“I feel that kids under the right tutelage can get more engaged,” added Brisbin. “This is one of the more inspiring things you will ever get to be a part of.”

MINDDRIVE Mentor and Marketing Strategist, Linda Buchner commented that, “Having a driver's license will give our students a lot more freedom as well as the potential for getting jobs. Many are old enough but haven't had the motivation to go ahead and get the license.”

And KCPD driving instructors will get to have a hand in pushing them toward that self-reliance.

To learn more about MINDDRIVE, visit their web site at


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Friday, December 2, 2011

Police addressing November homicide spike

Our city saw an unusual spike in homicides in November, and I want you to know that your police department is working diligently to solve and prevent these crimes. I’ll be talking more about this next week and will lay out a more thorough analysis of the recent murders, but I want to share a little about them now and how we’re addressing them.

Three suspects were responsible for eight of November’s homicides, and those cases have been cleared. Another homicide resulted from officers shooting and killing one of the suspects of one of those multiple homicides when he fired at police. The majority of the month’s homicides were not drug or gang related. In fact, most of them have been solved.

Two things have been instrumental to finding and arresting the suspects in these killings. First, the cooperation of the community with police during homicide investigations has been vital. Second, resource deployment in hot spot areas has resulted in quick identification and then apprehension of suspects.

The hot spots have been on target – more than half of Novembers homicides happened in those neighborhoods. Although we continue to crack down in those parts of town, there has been no displacement of criminal activity as a result of the hot spot targeting. Within a week, we will deploy additional covert resources in the community.

I’m very appreciative of all members of the police department and other segments of the community for their efforts toward making Kansas City a safe place to live.

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