Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebratory gunfire is dangerous and illegal


Shooting a firearm within Kansas City limits is illegal on New Year’s Day and every other day.

Police warn residents not to fire weapons over the holiday. Celebratory gunfire can be deadly. Blair Shanahan-Lane, 11, was killed by a stray bullet on July 4, 2011, outside an east Kansas City home. The shot that killed her was fired into the air some distance away.

Officers will arrest and jail anyone who is caught shooting a firearm into the air. In addition to being deadly, these shots disturb neighborhoods and divert police resources away from other crimes. During the last New Year’s holiday, Kansas City Police received 149 sounds of shots calls from 10 p.m. Dec. 31, 2011, to 5 a.m. Jan. 1, 2012.

“Firing a gun in city limits is against the law 365 days a year, and that includes New Year’s Eve,” Chief Darryl Forté said. “Residents should be able to celebrate the holiday safely and not be in fear of being struck by a stray bullet. Officers will be on the lookout for this illegal gunfire and will arrest perpetrators.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

KC NoVA moving forward, set to make big impact on violent crime in 2013

In May of this year, we and several partner agencies announced the creation of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance – or KC NoVA. Since that time, pieces are falling into place to significantly reduce the City’s violent crime in 2013. Repeat offenders who are all too familiar with the criminal justice system will see harsh legal consequences like never before because the system is going to work differently.

KC NoVA is a focused deterrence model similar to what has worked in other cities like Cincinnati and Boston. (Homicides fell by 47 percent in Cincinnati with this type of program.) It focuses law enforcement resources on the most violent offenders and groups while incorporating various systems of support to help lower-level offenders change their paths. Here in Kansas City, it incorporates municipal and federal law enforcement; local, state and federal prosecutors; Probation and Parole; the City; the juvenile justice system and academic research.

Here at KCPD, I have assigned a captain to oversee the project, as well as a sergeant and two detectives. But the whole department will be participating in gathering intelligence and identifying the worst perpetrators of crime in our city. The KC NoVA team is collocated with prosecutors in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, and they are working with a research team at the University of Missouri Kansas City to analyze and diagram the city’s criminal networks, targeting the most central figures for swift and certain prosecution.

Those who are on the periphery of those networks and not as heavily involved in violent crime also will be targeted, but for different reasons. They will be offered social services to help them leave crime behind and become productive members of society. They will be assigned case managers who will assist them with things like anger management, life skills, job training, housing and transportation.

Many of these violent crime prevention efforts also begin with offenders re-entering the City after serving time in prison for violent offenses. We are partnering with Probation and Parole like never before. Just last week, a team of KCPD officers met with a man who had been in prison for 26 years and was getting out that day. The officers told him about the resources available to him for successfully re-entering society and let him know they would be checking on him regularly. He is going back to be surrounded by many of the same violent people he was when he committed the crime, but we hope these interventions will help him turn away from those negative influences.

KC NoVA also is working with faith-based communities, family members of those involved in violent crime and neighborhoods to deter violent crime and heal communities.

Deterrence is KC NoVA’s ultimate goal. We hope to achieve this by cracking down very hard on the most violent offenders and giving lower-level offenders the tools they need to get away from a life of crime. I anticipate that you will see a significant reduction in homicides and aggravated assaults in 2013 and the years to come thanks to KC NoVA’s efforts.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Welcome to KCPD, Academy graduates

The 26 men and women of Entrant Officer Class 146 will graduate from the Police Academy tonight. They will hit the streets with their field training officers on Sunday. I administered the oath of office to them yesterday, on 12/12/12. In fact, I ended the oath by declaring them commissioned officers at exactly 12:12:12 (that was a stroke of luck).

Dozens of officers have retired this year, so this class is much needed. Our Academy does an excellent job preparing them for what they will face on the streets of Kansas City. You can see the sample curriculum. They receive extensive training in the law, patrol tactics, criminal investigation, firearms, defensive tactics, driving and more. These 26 men and women have proven themselves by successfully completing all the required training, and I look forward to having them represent KCPD.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hot spot policing is reducing homicides

Hot spot policing efforts have reduced homicides in Kansas City in 2012. So far, 40 percent of this year’s homicides have taken place in hot spot areas, compared to the 52 percent that took place in those areas on average for the past three years.

This does not mean crime is getting displaced elsewhere. Homicides are down across the board. We are at 101 homicides right now, which is seven fewer than last year, one more than in 2010, five fewer than 2009 and 22 fewer than 2008.

To reduce violent crime, we have to focus our efforts on where the bulk of it occurs. That’s what hot spot policing is all about. Channel 5 gave a great first-hand look at what this looks like with their special report last month.

I thank the officers, detectives, crime scene staff and others who are out solving and preventing these crimes. I also really want to thank the community members who are increasingly coming forward with tips and information. When a neighborhood no longer tolerates crime, it won’t happen there. We’re seeing that happen more and more, and police will continue to work on building the relationships that make safer neighborhoods.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

New South Patrol Division opens to public


Residents of south Kansas City now will go to a new location to file reports and conduct other business with police.

This past weekend, the new South Patrol Division at 9701 Marion Park Drive officially opened to the public. Residents should no longer go to the division’s former location at 11109 Hickman Mills Rd.

Police and public officials conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new South Patrol and Special Operations divisions’ campus on Nov. 7. Since then, contractors and computer technicians have put finishing touches on the buildings, and officers moved in throughout last week.

The campus is located near Bannister Road and 71 Highway, behind the Home Depot on Bannister. The entrance to the new South Patrol Division is on the west side of the western building, facing 71 Highway. Public parking is available in the west lot. The phone number to the station remains the same, 816-234-5550. Community group meeting facilities are available at the new location and can be reserved by calling the station.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Call police to get rid of unwanted firearms

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department does not sponsor events to turn in unwanted guns. That's because we will take these weapons any time. If you have a firearm in your possession that you want to be sure will never be used for criminal activity, turn it in to the KCPD. You can call an officer to come get it, or you can drop it off at a patrol division station. We will destroy the gun. The video below fully explains the process:

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Forum for homicide victims offers services, builds trust

Last night, we brought together more than 200 family members and loved ones of this year’s 89 homicide victims in a first-ever forum. We sent all of them personal invitations, and the AdHoc Group Against Crime also contacted family members of homicide victims from previous years.

The goal was to reach out to those surviving family members and let them know they’re not alone in their struggle. We also wanted to provide them with information about all the victim advocacy services available, both public and private. Additionally, all the homicide detectives who were not on call came to the forum.

A video memorial dedicated to this year’s homicide victims began the evening. Attendees also heard from Misty Kurwin, whose son Christopher Bartholomew was murdered in 2007, about her grief and how she handled it. Mayor Sly James and I also spoke, as did representatives of multiple victim advocacy services, including our own Community Support Division, Parents of Murdered Children, the Mattie Rhodes Center and Concord Hope House.

Afterward, the audience broke up to meet one-on-one with the victim advocates and detectives. Detectives provided updates to their loved ones’ cases. The detectives also asked them if they had heard anything more that could help the investigations and lead to justice for the families. Detectives made lots of contacts, and have many follow-up phone calls and visits to make in the coming days.

Homicides are not something our department takes lightly, and we will do everything in our power to prevent and solve them. Reaching out to those most impacted by these tragedies was a very necessary step for us. I’m so glad so many responded. The turn-out was more than we could have hoped for, and it demonstrates to me that the community is eager to work with us to reduce violent crime. This will not be the last such forum, and it’s just one of many steps we’re taking to strengthen the police-community partnership.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Looking back on my first year as Chief of Police

I was sworn in as chief of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department nearly one year ago on Oct. 13, 2011. I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to family, friends and co-workers for their support during my first year as chief. Without them, my journey would have been much more difficult. I also appreciate the support other segments of the community have shown to me. Understanding symbiotic relationships is a must if we are serious about mending distrust issues in the community. Therefore, my focus has been and will continue to be on developing and nurturing relationships. A day has not gone by in which someone from the community has not commented on the positive direction of the department - whether about the outstanding performance of an employee, the increased use of technology, the recognizable positive engagement of residents or comments in general about improved feelings of safety in the community. Let it be known that I have not done anything alone; I am merely a part of a tremendously dedicated workforce who understands the importance of the role we play in this community. This is a role that has not been taken lightly!

I would be remiss to limit my recognition to current members of the police department and not acknowledge the contribution of former chiefs of police, specifically retired chiefs James Corwin and Rick Easley, for establishing the foundation on which I am able to build. For their personal attention to my professional development, I am extremely grateful. I am a by-product of a team of predecessors who prepared me to carry the baton, and as I progress, I am doing the same for those who will remain a part of the department upon my retirement. (I have no retirement plans in the near future, however).

Hopefully, many of you have followed what has been going on in the community concerning activities of law enforcement in general, so I won’t detail all programs, projects or changes in philosophy. There were more than 230 Priority Actions in the original draft of mystrategic plan. So far, we have addressed more than 80 Priority Actions as we continue to work toward achieving reductions in crime and building trusting and respectful relationships both internally and externally. There is much more work to be done. However, we are headed in the right direction, especially with regard to improving relationships. Here are several links to some of our initiatives:

Community Support Division
- Community Support Division will reach out to those affected by violent crime
- Community Support Division makes inroads in neighborhood
- Six aggravated assault victims pursue prosecution thanks to Community Support Division

• Hot Spot Policing 

• Increased Partnership with Probation and Parole 

• ShotSpotter

I am committed to continuing to serve our City to the best of my ability. It is truly an honor serving such an engaged community and I am excited about what the future holds for our great city. Your support is appreciated!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Best wishes to Deputy Chief Kevin Masters

After 27 years of service to the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, Deputy Chief Kevin Masters is retiring today. I thank him for all he has done for this police department and the community. Below is a story from our latest Informant newsletter describing what he has accomplished and what he has meant to this department and Kansas City:

One of the department's youngest-ever commanders to be named deputy chief will retire from KCPD on Oct. 8 with 27 years of service.

When Deputy Chief Kevin Masters joined the police department in 1985, he had a degree in communications and journalism and dreamed of working in the Media Relations Unit.

"When I got in the field at Metro Patrol, it was a whole different story," he said. "At that point, media became a passing fancy."

He started as a dispatcher to get his foot in the door to Media, but the excitement of what he heard on the radio – as well as a couple persuasive recruiters— got him to enter the Academy. As soon as he hit the streets, Masters said he was hooked.

"It was so much fun," he said. "We were making lots of arrests. And I really like people, and I was getting to know a lot of people. Being on the streets energized me and really fit my personality."

After five years in patrol, D.C. Masters became a homicide detective. He said that assignment gave him the biggest range of emotion he has experienced.

"There is no worse feeling than going into someone's house, looking them in the eye and telling them their loved one has been killed," he said. "... But the most rewarding feeling is when you can go back to that same person and tell them you found who did it, and you're going to get justice for them."

Knowing what he went through emotionally, Masters said he made it a priority as commander of the Investigations Bureau to improve homicide detectives' quality of life. He worked with his staff to re-organize the unit in 2011 to give detectives more time and resources to solve cases as well as more time with their families. Homicide clearance rates have improved steadily since the change. Masters said that change is one of the most personally meaningful of his career accomplishments.

After he was a detective, Masters climbed the ranks quickly. Now-Retired Chief Rick Easley promoted him to deputy chief in 2002. Masters had been on the department for 17 years at the time and was 38 years old.

"Kevin was always a hard worker and extremely dependable," Easley said. "He always gave me the impression he was working hard at trying to do the right thing."

Easley said Masters could think on his feet, made good decisions and dealt well with others. But not everyone was excited to see such a new, young face as deputy chief. Masters said he faced some backlash, but he knew he'd earned the spot.

"I worked my tail off everywhere I went," he said. "I've always put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay."

Among some of his accomplishments were the implementation and development of the Shoal Creek Patrol Division and the Mounted Patrol Unit.

Through it all, Masters said he most liked meeting people— from Fortune 500 Company CEOs to people at the end of their ropes. That's why he's looking forward to his new job as director of government relations for the Kansas City Missouri School District.

Masters will be the main point of contact for the district for elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. But what he's most excited about will be his duties building relationships between the district's schools and the neighborhoods around them. He will be trying to connect school administrators to the business owners and residents of the communities they serve.

And although Masters never worked in Media Relations at KCPD, he said he got to use the communication skills he learned in many facets of his job.

"It has been a very rewarding experience," he said. "My life has been blessed personally and professionally."

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Friday, September 28, 2012

ShotSpotter system goes live this weekend


The ShotSpotter gunshot detection system will go live in Kansas City by October 1.

Covering 3.55 square miles in the urban core, the system will provide police the opportunity to rapidly respond to gunfire while building relationships with law-abiding residents in the coverage areas.

The ShotSpotter Flex system from SST Inc. is a partnership between the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), with federal funding for the project secured by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The $720,000 grant funds five years of ShotSpotter service, equipment installation, and maintenance.

Since the press conference announcing the system on May 4, 2012, police, the KCATA and several community partners have worked together to install ShotSpotter. Within the coverage area, the system will identify the address of gunshots, the number of shots fired, the number of weapons used, and all within a few feet of the actual shots. Police are not divulging the locations of the system, but portions of the KCATA Troost Max bus line and the federally designated Green Impact Zone will be covered.

When the system detects a potential gunshot, it will alert an audio engineer at ShotSpotter, located in Newark, Calif. The engineer will listen to the sound to determine whether it was a gunshot (as opposed to a car backfiring, firework or other noise). If so, the engineer will alert KCPD dispatchers. This whole process takes about 45 to 60 seconds. Police dispatchers will have a monitor showing them a map of the location of the shots, and they will direct officers on the ground to the spot. Officers will respond with the same level of urgency as they do to any other shots-fired 911 call.

Chief of Police Darryl Forté said ShotSpotter is part of an organizational change regarding how the police department prevents and responds to violent crime. Not only will the department be able to use the shooting data collected through ShotSpotter to deploy police resources and prevent crime where it’s most needed, it also will provide an opportunity for police to engage the community.

“Officers responding to these calls will contact residents in the area and tell them we are aware of recent gunfire in their neighborhood,” Chief Forté said. “We hope that contacting these residents will foster awareness, cooperation, potential information and an opportunity for community engagement.”

ShotSpotter is used in more than 70 other cities in the United States. SST Inc.’s studies have shown that as much as 80 percent of illegal gunfire goes unreported. Police hope the new community outreach prompted by ShotSpotter will increase reporting and citizen cooperation.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Turn in your unwanted medications Saturday


Kansas City residents will be able to drop off their unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs all over Kansas City on Sept. 29.

Kansas City Police are partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to present the nationwide Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. The drop-off locations will be:

• MainCor, 3215 Main St.
• CVS, 11124 Holmes
• Price Chopper, 8430 Wornall Road
• Hen House, 6238 N. Chatham Rd.
• Walgreens, 5400 Independence Ave.

There also are permanent drop-off locations in the lobbies of two Kansas City Police stations:

• Shoal Creek Patrol Division, 6801 NE Pleasant Valley Rd
• North Patrol Division, 1001 NW Barry Road

Residents can drop off the drugs anonymously with no questions asked. With the exception of needles, all expired, unused or unwanted medicines – prescription or over-the-counter – can be turned in. The Take Back intends to combat prescription drug abuse and dispose of the drugs in an environmentally responsible way. The drugs will be incinerated, keeping them away from those who would abuse them and out of the water supply and away from wildlife. Last year, KCPD collected nearly 2,000 pounds of drugs at Take Back events.

For more information about the nationwide Take Back Day, go to

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline is vital for a safer Kansas City

September is national Crime Stoppers Month, so I think this is a great time to recognize the immense assistance the Crime Stoppers program provides in solving crime in Kansas City. This also is a special year for the Kansas City Crime Stoppers program, which will celebrate their 30th anniversary in October.

Since their inception in 1982, the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline has generated more than 10,180 felony arrests, including the clearance of 598 homicides, 1,581 robberies, and 2,890 fugitive arrests. So far this year alone, Crime Stoppers has helped solve four homicides, 25 robberies and capture 104 fugitives. They have paid out $26,750 in rewards in 2012, and more than $1.2 million since the program started 30 years ago.

Our detectives rely on the tips that come from the TIPS Hotline. The Hotline’s dedication to anonymity is crucial. Through this medium, witnesses who have information that can solve felony crimes can report it directly to law enforcement without any fear of retaliation. The cash rewards are another incentive for reluctant witnesses to come forward.

Crime Stoppers was founded in 1976 and now has 1,000 programs worldwide, including 350 in the United States. According to Crime Stoppers USA Chairman K. Scott Abrams, “Crime Stoppers brings together businesses, citizens, law enforcement and the media to combat crime. It is important for the criminal element to know members of the community are watching and reporting their activities.”

While we appreciate the work of the TIPS Hotline every day, during this national Crime Stoppers Month, it’s important to point out how much work this organization does making Kansas City safer.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Hot spot policing is not just for summertime

Just because summer is ending doesn’t mean our commitment to reducing crime in the places it’s most likely to occur will fall off. We remain dedicated to hot spot policing and building relationships in neighborhoods that have long distrusted law enforcement. Officers from all over the department will continue special assignments to hot spot areas to combat crimes and communicate with residents. Crime does not stop when summer ends. We had 17 homicides last November and will do everything we can to prevent another such occurrence.

Homicide numbers are down from the four previous years, but it’s too early to celebrate on that front. I feel the true indicator of violent crime is aggravated assault statistics. These are assaults committed with weapons. Through August of 2012, aggravated assaults are down 1.6 percent compared to this time last year. It’s a small decline, but one we will work to continue.

The vast majority of these aggravated assaults and homicides are committed with guns, so we will be increasing our efforts to get illegal weapons off the street. Officers will increase the amount of car checks they conduct. These checks will be done legally, ethically and respectfully. We will check vehicles and occupants who generate reasonable suspicion, in accordance with the law.

But the No. 1 priority for me is for police to make contact with citizens. Crime prevention efforts are not just about putting people in jail. They are about building trust and lines of communication with the community, and I see that happening more and more. There has been a certain energy of cooperation lately, with more and more residents stepping up and giving us information.

I want to thank all the department members who have made reducing crime in these areas and throughout the city a priority. I know their schedules have been altered and their lives have been disrupted to provide the extra resources. I thank them for their continued positive attitude and efforts toward keeping the residents of Kansas City safe.

They soon will be getting more assistance. Some exciting developments are underway at KCPD. I’ll be addressing them in future blogs, but I wanted to give you a taste of what’s in the works:

• A Law Enforcement Resource Center – The LERC will contain a real-time data component that will give department members in patrol and investigations the instantaneous information they need to make the best decisions possible.

• Shot Spotter- This technology that can detect gunfire and where it came from will be launching in the near future.

• KC NoVA – The Kansas City No Violence Alliance is a partnership between the police department and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. It is expected to launch in the beginning of 2013 and will target the most violent offenders in our community.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Presentation explains how 40-year-old murder case was cracked

The leader of the investigative team that solved the 40-year-old murder of a prominent black political figure explained how police cracked the cold case in a presentation Wednesday hosted by the AdHoc Group Against Crime.

Sergeant Richard Sharp of KCPD’s Cold Case Squad will presented about how the Leon Jordan case was reopened and solved at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the Lucile Bluford Library, 3050 Prospect Ave.

“There have been so many questions raised about this since it occurred in 1970,” AdHoc President Alvin Brooks said. “‘Whodunit? And for what reason?’ Sergeant Sharp and his squad reinvestigated it, and they came up with the answers.”

Jordan, the founder of Freedom, Inc., and a powerful member of the Missouri Legislature, was gunned down outside the Green Duck Tavern at 26th and Prospect on July 15, 1970. Two men initially were charged in the case, but those charges were dropped, and the case went cold. At the urging of local civil rights leader Alvin Sykes, now-retired Chief James Corwin ordered the Cold Case Unit to re-open Jordan’s case. They did so in August 2010.

After untangling a web of politics and organized crime, Sergeant Sharp and his detectives identified three suspects by December 2010. Those suspects were Robert “Bob” Willis, James L. “Monk” Johnson, and James “Doc” Dearborn. All are now deceased. In early 2011, the Jackson County Prosecutor declared the preponderance of evidence in the new investigation showed those were the three responsible and closed the case.

Brooks said the Sept. 5 event is a great chance for the public to learn more and ask questions about the case just four blocks from where it happened, but it provides another opportunity, as well.

“It will be an interesting evening for those who want to know something about Kansas City’s African-American history,” he said.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Volunteering at the Police Department

Officers and I often hear from concerned citizens, “What can I do to help you?” In addition to being vigilant for criminal activity and cooperating with police, there’s something else you may not have thought about: volunteering for the police department.

Our Auxiliary Service Volunteer Program is designed to increase community involvement with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Anyone who is 17 or older can apply. Applicants must undergo a thorough background investigation, but unlike employees, do not have to live in the city limits of Kansas City, Mo. You can read more about service requirements in our policy.

The public can volunteer in a number of areas. Volunteers assist in the Records Unit, at patrol division stations, with building maintenance, educating the public about crime prevention and more. Our Crime Lab has had great success with college students majoring in fields like chemistry and biosciences volunteering. These students have assisted the Lab in reducing case backlogs.

All of these duties done by volunteers allow police officers and non-sworn employees to devote more time to preventing and solving crime. While a volunteer is filing, a Records Unit clerk is freed to take a police report from someone who walks into Headquarters. Because a volunteer cleans the stalls at the Mounted Patrol Stables, the officers don’t have to and can get out patrolling the community faster.

Serving as a KCPD Auxiliary Volunteer has proved to be rewarding for many retirees, students and anyone who wants to “protect and serve” their community. To apply to be a volunteer, contact Mindy Davis in our Human Resources Division at

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Officers do fantastic job getting illegal firearms off streets

Today I recognized two officers who have really dedicated themselves to making the community they serve a safer place. I presented the Chief’s Coin to Officers Bryan Britten and Michael Holsworth of the East Patrol Division this afternoon. The Coin is given at the Chief’s discretion, and I have awarded only one other one in my ten months on the job.

On their own, Officers Britten and Holsworth initiated a gun suppression project in the East Patrol Division inside what would later be designated as a crime hot spot in our hot spot policing initiative. They already knew that neighborhood needed attention (I’m not identifying it so as not to let criminals know where we’re concentrating our efforts). In one year, the officers recovered 18 firearms within their self-designated project area as well as 27 in the rest of their sector for a total of 45 firearms recovered. This is unheard of. Our Crime Lab later linked one of the weapons they seized to two homicides. The investigation into those is still ongoing, so I can’t say more at this time, but this piece of evidence will be vital.

The officers said they did this by “knowing their bad guys.” They did a great job targeting those who were involved in criminal activity and getting them and their weapons off the streets. Most of the people in these neighborhoods are law-abiding citizens, but the few who engage in criminal activity make the whole community unsafe. Thanks to proactive officers like Bryan Britten and Michael Holsworth, community members’ sense of security can begin to return.

Watch more about these officers on KCTV Channel 5.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Six aggravated assault victims pursue prosecution thanks to Community Support Division

Our Community Support Division (CSD) is continuing to make inroads and assist communities impacted by violence. Members of the Division so far have gone to more than 700 homes to reach out to residents in what we’re calling the “Community Impact Zone,” which is in one of the areas of the city identified as a violent crime hotspot.

CSD hired two summer employees – one in high school and one starting college – who I assigned the task of making phone calls to the uncooperative victims of more than 140 aggravated assaults that have occurred in 2012. Many of the assaults had multiple victims, so a total of 202 calls were made. Because of those calls, six victims have decided to cooperate in the prosecution of their cases. The Assault Squad is following up with them and working to present their cases to the prosecutor. The summer employees also made the victims aware of social services that are available to them whether they decide to prosecute or not. This kind of outreach will be continuing. As pointed out in a Kansas City Star article, victims of aggravated assault who choose not to prosecute those who hurt them often perpetuate the cycle of violence through retaliation, and we want to stop that.

Another thing CSD has implemented that has been very successful is the Community Crisis Intervention Program. This program takes the idea that someone who has been through a crisis and/or traumatic situation needs some counseling and applies it to a group of people. It’s often used for first responders and those who come into the aftermath of a traumatic event. We have applied this to four different communities that have suffered from violence. After their meetings, they have been empowered and eager to take control of the safety and security of their neighborhoods.

Additionally, CSD is working with Missouri Probation and Parole to create a Resource Fair attended by several community organizations. These organizations can assist offenders with myriad resources from basic needs like food, clothing and transportation to job skill training, mentoring and mental health services.

The CSD supports crime victims, their families, witnesses and more. We intend for the division to work more on crime prevention efforts in the future, as well.

For more information about financial support for violent crime victims and their families, go to the web site for the Missouri Department of Public Safety’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Police to honor victims at DUI checkpoints


Kansas City Police will launch a new campaign to remember the victims of drunk driving incidents while preparing for a statewide impaired driving enforcement effort.

The statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at the Kansas City Regional Police Academy, 6885 N.E. Pleasant Valley Road. The enforcement will run from Aug. 17 through Labor Day, Sept. 3. In launching the campaign, KCPD joined the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Missouri State Highway Patrol, Smithville Police Department and Annette Murray, who lost her sister and niece to a drunk driver.

In addition to kicking off the Drive Sober enforcement campaign, Kansas City Police also will introduce their efforts to honor local victims who have lost their lives to drunk drivers. In partnership with MoDOT and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, KCPD will dedicate their upcoming sobriety checkpoints to these victims. Each checkpoint will honor a different victim by featuring two signs – one at the beginning of the check-lane with the victim’s picture and another at the end saying the date the victim was killed. After each checkpoint, the victims’ families will be given these metal signs to keep.

“It’s a way to really drive home the toll drunk driving takes on human life,” said Major Rich Lockhart, commander of KCPD’s Special Operations Division. “Many people ask, ‘Why do you do checkpoints?’ The person on that sign is why.”

The first victims to be honored at a DUI checkpoint will be Diane and Anna Bronson, the 44-year-old mother and 11-year-old daughter from Belton, Mo., who were killed on July 4, 2011. A driver whose blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit was driving the wrong way on Interstate 435 that day and slammed into the Bronsons’ vehicle at 63rd Street in Kansas City. In March 2012, the driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Annette Murray, the sister of Diane and aunt of Anna, spoke about the cost of that drunk driver’s actions at the kick-off event Friday.

In 2011, sixteen people in Kansas City died at the hands of an impaired driver, and another 49 suffered disabling injuries.

KCPD will join other law enforcement agencies from throughout the state with stepped-up patrols and DUI checkpoints to look for impaired drivers from Aug. 17 – Sept. 3.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Police are ready for the new school year

As more and more school districts and private schools return to class this week and in the coming weeks, we ask that you be extra cautious on the roads. Watch for students on foot, in buses and teenage drivers. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop for buses loading and unloading children.

We will be conducting extra traffic enforcement in school zones to help these students stay safe. We also have received a grant to enforce seat belt usage among teen drivers, so you may see additional police presence around high schools for those purposes, as well.

And this school year marks the first time City Ordinance 120180 has been in place regarding compulsory school attendance. It went into effect yesterday, in fact. Police officers and school district personnel have conducted truancy sweeps in the past, but there were few repercussions. This ordinance allows penalties against parents of truant children ranging from a warning to community service to a $500 fine. Truancy leads to increased crime – everything from burglaries to vandalism – and we hope this will now be less of an issue. 

A new school year isn’t all about enforcement, however. To help those who may not have the tools necessary for academic success, our Records Unit is helping several students with their fourth annual school supply drive. The Police Athletic League partnered with the Upper Room Inc. throughout the summer to bring dozens of students up to grade level in reading.

Many police department members are sending their own children back to school now and in the coming weeks, and we all are hoping for a great year.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Members of Entrant Officer Class 145 are on the streets

As many area students head back to class, one group has just graduated: the 145th Entrant Officer Class of the Kansas City Regional Police Academy. This group of 17 graduated Thursday, August 9, and all of them are now on the streets. They will be riding with a field training officer and learning the ropes until Oct. 21, at which time their performance will be reviewed. If they pass, they will be allowed to answer calls for service on their own. They will be reviewed once again six months from now to determine whether they passed their probationary period and achieve the full rank of officer.

It was a proud moment to swear in this class, my first as chief. Below is the oath of office I administered to the new officers and by which they have sworn to abide:

I do solemnly swear

That I will support the Constitution, the laws of the United States and the State of Missouri,

That I will observe the provisions of the charter and the ordinances of Kansas City,

And that I will faithfully discharge all my duties as a member of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Force

So help me God.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

New technology will assist in serious crash investigations


Kansas City Police will be able to clear serious accidents off roadways more quickly thanks to new equipment purchased by the Missouri Department of Transportation in conjunction with KC Scout.

“By the design of this equipment, officers are often able to complete complicated investigations without unnecessarily exposing officers to traffic,” said Rusty James, Incident Management Coordinator for Scout. “By investigating the incidents in this fashion, there is no further traffic backup. This technology is recognized in the courts as highly accurate, resulting in successful prosecutions.”

Scout and MoDOT purchased four Sokkia total stations and two Archer Bluetooth evidence recorders valued at $35,000 for KCPD. This equipment is used to create forensic maps of incident scenes. KCPD’s crash documentation equipment was last updated in 2008, but James said technology has made leaps and bounds since then. The new total stations better protect officers and motorists.

“Kansas City Police investigate more fatality wrecks than anyone in the area, and we want to keep them safe, as well as the drivers around them,” James said.

KCPD investigated 60 fatal crashes in 2011 and 41 so far in 2012.

But the department’s 2008 equipment still works well and would be ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies with lighter accident investigation caseloads. Scout and MoDOT will be distributing KCPD’s current equipment to other police departments who never would have had the opportunity to have such crash documentation technology before.

“The Kansas City Metro Traffic Incident Management Program is being used as a model around the country,” James said. “Our example of what can be accomplished with these partnerships will be used in developing future programs nationwide.”

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homicides are at lowest point in five years

After a disturbing start to 2012, Kansas City’s homicide rate is now at its lowest point in five years. We have 61 homicides to date so far. At this time during the last four years, we were at 65 homicides, with the exception of 2009, when we had 72.

The summer months are typically the most violent of the year, and August tends to be the most challenging. I am heartened the killings have been kept in check. Although 61 families are mourning the loss of loved ones to violence this year, I am grateful there are not more. Still, 61 is far too many.

I often hear that Kansas City has “an escalating homicide rate,” and that simply is not true. Many factors contribute to the rate – everything from employment to education. Law enforcement, of course, plays a small but very important role. I have said repeatedly that the vast majority of these homicides are not random. People involved in criminal activity are more likely to be victims of violence. By clamping down on crime in hot spot neighborhoods, police are working to stop the activities that lead to killings. I appreciate the officers and other department members who regularly patrol and work in these neighborhoods and those who are on special assignment there.

I also appreciate the many citizens who have stepped up to make their neighborhoods safer. They are cooperating with law enforcement, submitting tips and making a big difference.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

City's youth programming brings peace to the Plaza

Nights at the Country Club Plaza have been quiet so far this summer. But not far away, a youthful crowd is anything but quiet. They’re having swim parties, playing video games, dancing to a professional DJ, learning moves from hip hop instructors, participating in 3-on-3 basketball and Xbox tournaments, watching movies, using computers and having snacks and drinks.

This past weekend alone (July 27-28), 1,050 high-schoolers went to the Brush Creek Community Center to participate in Club KC, a free summer weekend hangout for young people presented by the City of Kansas City. Another 420 middle-schoolers gathered at the Gregg Klice and Tony Aguirre Community Centers last weekend. Those numbers have steadily increased since the City launched the program June 22.

This matters to police because this time last year and in 2010, we were devoting considerable resources to keeping the Plaza safe. Large crowds of young people gathered there, intimidating patrons, vandalizing property and occasionally erupting in violence. We have not had any major incidents on the Plaza this summer and no problems with rowdy crowds. This can be attributed to several things: curfews imposed last year and increased police presence. But I believe the opportunity the City is providing youth is the primary reason.

Club KC has shown that if you give young people (it’s open to ages 12-18) a place to go, they’ll go there and be constructive. Our officers provide security at Club KC events, and there have been no problems at them.

It takes resources for Parks and Recreation to put on this programming, but it’s difficult to argue how well it’s working. How much more money would it cost to put a sizeable police presence on the Plaza every weekend? How much tax revenue would the City lose if residents stopped patronizing businesses there out of fear? A small investment in community centers and their programming saves both the KCPD and the entire city a lot in the long run.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Women breaking ground at KCPD

Diversity means a lot more than different skin colors. It means a variety of life experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, geography, education level and more. In a traditionally male arena like law enforcement, it also means gender.

Since I was appointed chief, I’ve recognized the importance of having women represented throughout all ranks of the police department – not as tokens but as leaders. Last fall marked the first time the KCPD ever has had two female deputy chiefs at the same time. Cheryl Rose heads up the Patrol Bureau and Patty Higgins, whom I promoted last fall, is over the Professional Development and Research Bureau. I trust these women with some of the most important functions of this department: overseeing the training of and policies for new and existing officers and directing the 900-some patrol officers who are the front lines of our police force.

Two of our other executive positions also are filled by women – General Counsel Virginia Murray and Associate General Counsel Jamie Cook. And Major Robin Houston is just the second woman on the department in my memory (and I’ve been here 26 years) who has served as commander of the Fiscal Division. She is charged with overseeing the department’s budget and expenditures.

And while women have previously broken into other male-dominated areas of the department such as Traffic Enforcement and tactical squads, another woman this year has gone where none had gone before: firearms instruction. After a successful tenure in the Homicide Unit, Detective Venasa Ray became KCPD’s first-ever female firearms instructor. She teaches recruits and officers how to handle and use their weapons, and she’s an excellent shot.

With 582 of them, females comprise 29.2 percent of KCPD employees department-wide. That includes non-sworn, civilian staff. Females comprise just 14 percent of our law enforcement officers, and we are working to increase that number.

In fact, one of my priorities is to increase diversity of all kinds throughout the department. It’s not just a men-and-women issue, nor is it just a black-and-white issue. We want department members who were raised in different ways and who know different things. They need to have a few things in common, though: be of high integrity and have a desire to serve the residents of Kansas City and keep them safe. Do you think you fit the bill? Go to the careers page on our web site and learn how to apply.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Kansas City Police increase security in wake of Colorado shootings

A horrible tragedy took place today in Aurora, Colo., with a gunman killing 12 people and injuring dozens more in a crowded movie theater. Our hearts are with the victims and their families as they try to cope with unthinkable trauma and loss.

The victims were regular people going about their regular lives – not doing anything risky or dangerous. This makes many of us question, “Could something like that happen to me?” We have received several inquiries today about how Kansas City Police might handle a similar incident. While we pray nothing like this ever will happen again in Kansas City or anywhere else, KCPD is very prepared if it does. One of my strategic objectives when I became Chief was to enhance the police department’s ability to respond to critical incidents.

This morning, we arranged for increased police presence in and around movie theaters. These police will be both in uniform and covert. KCPD also uses an Asset Protection Response System for several local facilities. Through this, police have blueprints and layouts of many locations in Kansas City where large groups of people gather, from schools to hospitals to businesses. Officers can pull these up in their police cars to help them better navigate a location and get to a threat quickly.

In the case of movie theaters specifically, many in Kansas City, Mo., employ off-duty Kansas City Police officers for security and/or have other security measures in place.

All the police presence in the world, however, sometimes cannot be enough to stop a disturbed individual with a weapon. That is why it is immensely helpful for members of the public to report anyone they see acting suspiciously. Do not hesitate to call 911 in such a situation.

Additionally, our officers train for active-shooter scenarios frequently, and that training is constantly updated. When a tragic incident like that in Aurora takes place, we evaluate what happened and use it to enhance our training and response.

The shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 taught us a tragic lesson: in an active shooter scenario, police cannot wait for specialized tactical teams to arrive. That is why all of our patrol officers are trained to respond to and eliminate the threat of an active shooter as quickly as possible. Officers rehearse these scenarios everywhere from high schools to banks.

That preparedness was evident in April 2007 when a man armed with a gun killed two people in the parking lot of Ward Parkway Center and then made his way inside while continuing to fire at anyone he could. Dozens of police were on the scene in minutes. One patrol officer quickly tracked the suspect down in the mall and shot him, fatally wounding him before he could hurt anyone else.

Give your thoughts and prayers to those who were victims in that movie theater, but don’t let incidents like what happened in Colorado prevent you from carrying on with your day-to-day activities. No one benefits when we live in fear. I’m planning to go to the movies this weekend, myself.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Police are partnering with probation and parole

The police are just one part of the criminal justice system, and we're happy to be strengthening our relationships with other pieces of that system. Read this story from our July Informant newsletter about the new partnership we're forging with Missouri Probation and Parole to increase public safety:

Kansas City Police and Missouri Probation and Parole are working together more closely than ever and are developing a new initiative to prevent high-risk offenders from committing new crimes.

Shortly after he took office in November 2011, Chief Darryl Forté assigned Sergeant Gary Cooley to get KCPD more involved in the process of offenders re-entering the community after serving prison time. Sergeant Cooley said one thing was glaringly evident from the start.

“There was a big gap between the police department and Probation and Parole,” Sergeant Cooley said. “… They’re eager for a positive, working relationship with police.”

His role has morphed into that of liaison between the police department and Missouri Probation and Parole. Shari Morlang, the Probation and Parole District 4 Administrator, said this is the first time in her 20 years that there has been someone so closely connecting the two agencies.

Cooley said although both organizations have the same goal of public safety, there are several misconceptions police have about Probation and Parole and vice versa. Morlang said having the police liaison position is helping eliminate those.

“One goal of working with Sgt. Cooley is to cross-train and educate each other on our duties and requirements so we have a better understanding,” she said.

This new relationship is leading to a pilot program aimed at increasing public safety: Safety Through Accountability and Community Collaboration, or STACC. Set to launch before the first of September, STACC seeks “to provide intervention, education and accountability to high-risk offenders within the Kansas City, Missouri, Metropolitan area.”

Sergeant Cooley is working with Probation and Parole staff to identify offenders who are most likely to recommit violent crimes upon their release from prison. He, Probation and Parole staff and other police officers will then closely monitor those offenders upon their release into the community. STACC will assist with job and life skills training, housing and other resources to assist the offender with re-integrating into the community.

“This is not a ‘hug-a-thug’ program,” Cooley said. “… STACC will support them if they want to change. If not, we will intervene as quickly as possible before they commit another crime.”

Cooley said offenders identified to be part of STACC will meet with police and Probation and Parole as soon as they are released from prison, followed by several in-home visits.

“It’s puts another layer of accountability in their minds to know that not just Probation and Parole, but also police, are keeping an eye on them,” he said.

Morlang said she is eager to see what STACC can accomplish.

“This is a great opportunity for the agencies to work together to help participants move toward living a more productive, crime-free and fulfilling life while strengthening families and neighborhoods at the same time,” she said. “This really is a win-win for everyone, and I am excited to be part of it.”

Through STACC and his other work, Sergeant Cooley anticipates greater communication between Probation and Parole and police. One of his goals is to notify patrol officers when an offender is released from prison or put on probation in the area they serve.

“I never got that kind of information when I was in the field, and I would have really appreciated it,” he said.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everything goes according to plan for police during All-Star events


From a public safety perspective, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game events went very smoothly in Kansas City.

“To say it went well is an understatement,” said Major Rich Lockhart, who coordinated police operations for the event. “It was a huge team effort that showcased Kansas City on a national stage.”

About 300 police personnel were devoted to the events throughout the city, with an additional 85 officers working inside Kauffman Stadium. Regular neighborhood patrols were not affected. Officers working All-Star events were on special assignment.

Most baseball fans seemed to be on their best behavior, too, with police making very few arrests. One person was taken into custody and charged with stealing for breaking into cars. Police also identified a dozen counterfeit game tickets and three victims, and investigation into those continues. The most common problem police encountered – especially at FanFest – were children who became separated from their parents. All were reunited in less than 10 minutes.

Thanks to a change in the weather, fewer than 10 people received medical treatment for heat-related issues.

Major Lockhart said the geographic scope of events presented a special challenge. Other cities that have hosted the All-Star Game had events concentrated in one downtown area. Kansas City had FanFest and the Charity 5K run Downtown, the Chevrolet Red Carpet Parade on the Plaza and the games several miles east at Kauffman Stadium.

“I didn’t hear one bad thing,” he said. “It says a lot about the level of planning and the level of professionalism by everyone.”

The Kansas City City Council will honor the Police and Fire departments with a resolution at 3 p.m. Thursday recognizing their work coordinating All-Star events.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Police are ready for All-Star week

Today marks the official kick-off of Major League Baseball All-Star Game events in Kansas City, and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department is more than ready.

We have been planning for this event for more than a year, when we sent a delegation of KCPD commanders to Phoenix last July to learn how their city handled the event. Since then we have created a comprehensive plan and tested it with both the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a full-scale exercise in April. The plan even received a U.S. Army “Red Team” review from the staff and students at the prestigious University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth. We also have set up a text message alert system to keep you aware of traffic issues and any emergencies that may arise. Sign up by texting ALLSTARKC to 888777.

We have ensured we have as many resources available from July 6-10 as possible. Only department members who submitted their requests six months in advance were allowed to take vacation time during All-Star events so we can have the maximum number of personnel on duty. At any given time, there will be about 300 police officers dedicated specifically to All-Star events throughout the city in the next five days. This will not affect regular neighborhood police presence. These officers are on special assignment. We are pulling them from every element of the department – from D.A.R.E. to the Internal Affairs Unit. Even Police Academy Recruits will be assisting. The city has allotted $250,000 for overtime to cover additional staffing costs.

In addition to the many more officers you will see, there will be many officers and non-sworn department members working behind the scenes you won’t. Everyone from dispatchers to commanders will be working in the City’s Emergency Operations Center, command posts, at Kauffman Stadium and in and around hotels and other area attractions. Some will be among the crowds in plain clothes looking for suspicious activity. Others will be watching security camera feeds while still others will be gathering and analyzing intelligence.

The public should be aware of some traffic issues that will take place during All-Star events. Expect congestion around Bartle Hall downtown for the Fan Fest and around Kauffman Stadium. Two big events also will cause road closures: the Charity 5K and Fun Run that will be downtown on the morning of Sunday, July 8, (click to see the  5K route map), and the Red Carpet Parade that will be on the Plaza on Tuesday, July 10 (click to see the parade route map). Cars parked on the Plaza will need to be moved by 10 p.m. July 9. Anyone attending All-Star events should take the same precautions we always give: do not leave items of value in your vehicle and be aware of your surroundings. Trust your gut.

While KCPD has played a big role in planning for the security of Kansas City playing host to the All-Star Game, we could not have done it with our local, state and federal partners. They include: The Kansas City Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management, the Jackson and Platte County Sheriff’s Departments, the Independence Police Department, the Kansas City Royals, Major League Baseball, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Center, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We all have worked together very well to ensure you have the most fun and safest baseball experience possible.

At KCPD, we are proud to be ambassadors for Kansas City, and we look forward to serving and protecting those who attend the All-Star Game events.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

KCPD engages in Battle for Blood

This time of year always is one that is critical for blood donations, but it’s also a time when you see public safety personnel really step up to fill the void. The annual Battle for Blood is going on this week at all locations of the Community Blood Center. It pits police officers against firefighters all over the Kansas City metro area to see who can bring in the most blood donations. Anyone can go to a Community Blood Center location and give on behalf of police (or fire).

Nearly every day, police see people who have had a traumatic injury and require donated blood to stay alive. And every year, hundreds of our department members roll up their sleeves and give that life-saving gift. We’re having two in-house drives this week, actually, for employees to give. The Community Blood Center currently has only a three-day supply of blood.

In addition to saving lives, we’ve got to recover some pride. Police lost the Battle for Blood trophy to fire last year, and we want it back! So head out to a Community Blood Center location by Friday and say you want to donate on behalf of Police. Those who donate also are registered for a chance to win All Star Game tickets and a number of other prizes.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Renovations at Headquarters

The main story on the front page of today’s Kansas City Star does a great job outlining the need for renovations here at 1125 Locust St. Our Homicide Unit and other violent crimes detectives work in unacceptably cramped and outdated conditions. Our dedicated Building Operations staff faces a never-ending task in keeping our HVAC and plumbing systems functioning.

But thanks to you, this is all about to change. By the spring of 2014, Police Headquarters will be fully renovated for the first time since it was built in 1938. The project is funded by the Public Safety Sales Tax, which you, the voters, overwhelmingly renewed in 2010. This will benefit not only the police who work here but also victims and witnesses, as the Star points out:

“No longer will witnesses and victims risk crossing paths with suspects before being interviewed. They won’t be forced to sit for hours in stark waiting rooms either. Architects have designed the layout to shelter victims from the accused and give police private places to take their statements.”

Detectives will be able to work on cases much more effectively and efficiently with this set up, and we hope it will contribute to increased victim and witness cooperation.

We will be adding a community meeting room off the first-floor lobby for public use, as well. And the architect is working to restore much of the building’s original Art Deco grandeur.

You might notice work going on around Headquarters, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Baseball fans encouraged to sign up for All Star Game text alerts


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department urges anyone who plans to attend any events surrounding the Major League Baseball All Star Game (Fan Fest, Home Run Derby, Red Carpet Parade, etc.) from July 6-10 to sign up for text message alerts by texting ALLSTARKC to 888777.

Police will use text alerts to keep baseball fans up to date on traffic, road closures and emergency notifications. The text alerts are provided free (although cellular plans may charge for them), and those who sign up will only receive alerts related to the All Star Game and its events. Once signed up, users also can opt to receive the messages by e-mail by going to

To receive all KCPD text alerts, text KCPD or your zip code to 888777.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Making 911 Call Center staffing a priority

When I was appointed chief last October, one of the units on this department most vital to public safety was inadequately staffed. Our Communications Unit, which handles all 911 calls in Kansas City, was down 24 people. We had been under a hiring freeze since a $15 million budget cut in 2008, but I knew those were positions that had to be filled.

I made those positions a priority, and I am happy to report that we have hired 14 call-takers since November. Nine of them have completed their training and are on the job full-time, and the remaining five will join them soon.

These call-takers are the first people you have contact with in an emergency. They handle all manners of stressful and life-or-death situations with professionalism. We conduct frequent quality assurance checks on them, and they consistently perform admirably. They handled more than 843,000 calls in 2011.

These call-takers and dispatchers have been professional and effective in spite of incredible demands that have been placed upon them the last few years during the hiring freeze. To prevent 911 callers from being placed on hold for long periods of time, our call-takers and dispatchers have been forced to work mandatory overtime. In 2011, they put in more than 10,000 hours of overtime to make up for being short-staffed. This has been a big strain on the employees.

With the high levels of turn-over in a stressful, 24/7 job like this, we still are down 14 positions. I hope that by continuing to work toward fully staffing the Communications Unit, we can ease some of the burden our dispatchers and call-takers have taken on to protect this city. In the mean time, I want them to know I appreciate everything they do.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

I'm now on Twitter


Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forté has joined the Twitterverse.

The Chief now is tweeting at @ChiefForte ( He said it’s one more way he can communicate with members of the community and his own staff.

“I’d like both members and nonmembers of the department to better understand some of what I do throughout the day,” he said.

So far, the Chief has tweeted about attending public meetings and going to a homicide scene.

The police department also is on Twitter at @kcpolice (

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Community Support Division makes inroads in neighborhood

Last night, our Community Support Division hosted a community forum that was the culmination of a week’s worth of intensive outreach efforts in a neighborhood struggling with crime.

The forum took place at St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church at 58th and Euclid, and about 75 residents attended. Thanks to Father Ernie Davis for hosting us. I was there, as were commanders and representatives of our Violent Crimes, Narcotics and Vice, Metro Patrol and Community Support divisions as well as the TIPS Hotline and our victim advocate. We talked about what each division does and gave the attendees an idea of what’s going on in their neighborhood with crime statistics.

But the really important work is what happened in advance of this forum. For four nights last week and this week, members of our Community Support Division (CSD) and officers knocked on the doors of 700 homes in the neighborhood around the church, which we’re calling a “Community Impact Zone.” The officers were expecting to get a lot of doors slammed in their faces, but CSD Director Doug Weishar said just the opposite happened. He said he was shocked by how warmly they were received. Many neighbors saw the police group coming and came out on their porches in advance to greet them.

The CSD staff asked each person they talked to if they’d be willing to provide their name, phone number and e-mail address so police could keep in touch with them better. Director Weishar estimated 95 to 98 percent of the people they contacted volunteered this information. We will use this to tell these residents about crime patterns in their neighborhood, ask for their help in solving crimes and ask them if what we’re doing is working. We’d like to use this Community Impact Zone area to test some community policing and crime prevention strategies.

While out in the neighborhoods and at the forum, we communicated the message that KCPD is there to help, but we need the community’s help. We also told them about the mission of the relatively new Community Support Division, which supports victims, witnesses and their families. Jennifer Miller, our victim advocate, talked about her role and how important it is to bridge the gap between the time a crime occurs and when it gets to court.

Of those who attended the forum, more than half said they would be interested in attending a two-hour community crisis intervention program presented by KCPD.

I want to thank the community members for opening up their minds and doors to police. I also want to thank Deputy Chief Randy Hundley and Director Weishar, Sergeant Darrel Rocker and Victim Advocate Jennifer Miller of the Community Support Division for organizing this event and going door to door. I also really appreciate the officers who assisted them.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Progress in hot spots

A few months ago, there was concern that our homicide rate was out of control. If you look at our daily homicide analysis, you will see we have just four more homicides than at this time last year and are at or below where we were for the three years before that. Each of these killings is a tragedy, but I assure you that violence is not spiraling out of control. The murder rate in Kansas City has remained relatively constant for a number of years.

My No. 1 priority as chief has been to reduce violent crime. We have studied where crime is most likely to occur and have devoted a great deal of resources to those neighborhoods. About half of this year’s homicides have occurred in several defined areas or within a few blocks of them. Starting the first weekend of May, we pulled officers from all over the department to saturate these areas. Since that time, no killings have taken place in those communities with the exception of an officer-involved shooting.

We’ve also made a concentrated effort to get guns out of the hands of those who should not legally have them. Through the beginning of May, our Narcotics and Vice Division has recovered 208 percent more firearms than at this point last year. This includes 573 percent more assault weapons (74 vs. 11) and 131 percent more handguns (367 vs. 119) than at this point in 2011.

This enhanced enforcement activity has not led to the displacement of crime elsewhere. None of our data show that violence is moving to other areas.

The police cannot take all credit for this progress. The people living in these neighborhoods have really stepped up. They are cooperating with us more and are becoming less tolerant of crime where they live.

Enhanced cooperation between police and residents as well as more law enforcement resources in the areas that need them most means that summer – a time of typically higher violence – can be a time of peace and safety in Kansas City.

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