Friday, March 30, 2012

Honoring a (very) young hero

I had the privilege last night of meeting Jason J. Smith II. Jason has personally witnessed more tragedy in his nine years than most adults ever will. In the face of that tragedy, he acted courageously, and we honored him with a Life-Saving Certificate last night - an award normally reserved for police officers. Here is his story:

An unlikely hero emerged from a tragic double homicide on July 28, 2011: 9-year-old Jason J. Smith II.

A little before 1:30 a.m. that night, Jason was asleep next to his grandmother and 2-year-old brother, Zion. His mother was asleep in another room. His mother’s ex-boyfriend came into the home and shot Jason’s grandmother as he lay next to her. She was holding the 2-year-old when she was murdered. The suspect left the room, and Jason grabbed his baby brother, put him on his back, and ran next door to a neighbor’s house. As he ran, he heard more gunshots. The ex-boyfriend had just killed his mother, as well. Jason told the neighbor his grandmother had been shot and needed help. The neighbor saw that Zion had blood on his clothes and quickly called police.

Homicide Unit Detective Brent Taney said, “Jason showed a tremendous amount of bravery and courage while acting in a selfless manner that probably saved his younger brother’s life, as well as his own.”

But his bravery didn’t stop there. Shortly after the homicides and in the face of the trauma he’d just experienced, Jason gave a detailed statement of what happened and an accurate description of the suspect. This led police to the suspect very quickly. Detective Taney said Jason’s quick identification of the suspect likely protected other family members from harm, as well.

Two weeks after the murders, Jason ran into a KCPD officer working security for a grocery store and told her he dreams of being a police officer when he grows up.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chief Forté invites public to share concerns, ideas with police at forum Saturday


Chief Darryl Forté invites the public to a forum Saturday to meet with various Kansas City Police Department elements and ask questions or voice their concerns.

The forum will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 31 at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, 4747 Flora Ave. The event will be structured so community members can speak one-on-one with commanders and officers as well as Chief Forté. Representatives of multiple KCPD units will be at tables to speak with the public. Some of those units include Homicide, Narcotics and Vice Division, Human Resources Recruiters, and each patrol division station. Residents are invited to ask questions and share their concerns about public safety and quality of life related issues.

Chief Forté also will ask community members who have specific public safety problems they’d like to see addressed to sign a “Community Contract” with the KCPD. This contract will outline the mutually agreed upon action steps to be taken by police and residents to address the issue.

“It says we have a shared responsibility and individual accountability – both police and community members – for resolving problems,” Chief Forté said.

This is the second of Chief Forté’s quarterly community forums since he became chief.

The forum will be in Paseo Academy’s cafeteria. The public should park on the Flora Avenue (west side) of the building and enter through the cafeteria entrance.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kansas City Police are on Pinterest


To inspire and build relationships with their community, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department has joined the social media site Pinterest at

“We are one of the first police departments in the United States to be using this digital medium,” Captain Steve Young said.

Pinterest, a digital inspiration board, has more than 20 million users and is one of the fastest-growing social media sites on the Internet. KCPD hopes to use it to inspire citizens to prevent crime and partner with police.

Some of KCPD’s pin boards include “Safety Tips/How To’s,” “Training/Becoming a Police Officer,” “Cool Police Equipment,” and “KCPD Fuzzy Friends.” These link to KCPD pictures on photo-sharing site Flickr, videos on YouTube and information on the KCPD web site, among other places.

Pinterest will complement KCPD’s other social media, including the Chief’s Blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It also aims to reach out to other groups, such as more female users. According to Internet Marketing Inc., 80 percent of Pinterest users are women.

“This reaches a broad group that may not have been engaged in our other social media efforts,” Young said.

KCPD’s Pinterest account features pin boards about women in policing and what to do in difficult situations, like an abusive relationship.

Future pin boards will include historical pictures, pictures of drugs so parents and community members can identify them, additional safety tips, pictures of possible KCPD attire and more.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Narcotics and Vice Division successes

Our Narcotics and Vice Division had a very productive February getting drugs, guns and those who commit crimes involving the two off the streets. Consider these numbers comparing February 2012 with February 2011 and year-to-date figures for the first two months of the year:

Feb. 2012Feb. 2011% Difference2012 YTD2011 YTD% Difference
Narcotics-Related Arrests19072164%334130157%
Firearms Recovered7034106%966645%
Search Warrants Served10135189%15669126%

These are just numbers from the Narcotics and Vice Division. The numbers from other elements in the police department are just as impressive. But the statistics aren’t what I care about. What we want are results from these statistics: reduced crime and a safer city. Fewer illegal firearms, less drugs and increased arrests of those who traffic in both are a good step toward that.

The detectives and officers of this department are working very hard toward a safer city, and they’re doing so more effectively. Another statistic shows how inter-department communication has increased. Other elements (such as the Violent Crimes Division) have reached out for support from the Narcotics and Vice Division on 105 percent more cases than they did in the first two months of last year. NVD has received 890 internal requests for investigative support so far in 2012 compared to 435 requests at this point in 2011. This shows we are using our resources more effectively and tackling violent crime from more than one angle.

The efforts of these detectives, officers, and the community have not gone unnoticed. Their contribution to reducing crime is appreciated and very much needed. A Communications Unit Supervisor informed me this weekend that we’d received six calls when one homicide occurred. That is unusual (sometimes we receive none) and brings hope that not only will that particular homicide be solved but that everyone is stepping up to make our city safer.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Police are ready for St. Patrick’s Day Parade, celebrations


Police are prepared for Kansas City’s 40th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and holiday, and they want residents to be ready, as well.

The parade begins at 11 a.m. and lasts about two hours. The actual parade is on Broadway, beginning at 33rd Street and going south to 43rd Street. Broadway will be closed from 31st Street to 47th Street. The parade staging area also will be closed prior to and during the parade. This includes Linwood from Main to Broadway and 33rd Street from Broadway to Pennsylvania. All cars parked in any of these areas must be moved before 6 a.m. Saturday.

Nearly 200 uniformed officers will be on or near the parade route. Most of these officers are on special assignment, so police service in other parts of the city will not be affected. Officers on horseback and ATVs also will patrol the outskirts of the parade route, as will canine officers. Police also have installed security cameras along the route and will be monitoring any dangerous or suspicious activity from those, as well. The police helicopter will be monitoring traffic flow in and around the parade and will assist as needed. Under-cover detectives also will be in the crowd to enforce liquor laws.

“We hope that with police taking all of these safety measures, families and revelers will be free to enjoy the parade and other activities on what promises to be a beautiful day,” said Major Rich Lockhart, commander of the Special Operations Division.

For the first time, police will be using the City’s Emergency Operations Center for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Joining them will be the City’s EOC director, and staff from the Kansas City Fire Department, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security. Lockhart said the parade will serve as a dry run for the Major League Baseball All Star Game in July.

After the parade, police will dedicate numerous officers to provide extra security in Westport.

Police also will conduct multiple sobriety checkpoints in the course of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

International Woman of Courage winner visits KCPD

Earlier this week, we were pleased to play host to Major Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police for a few days. Major Azevedo visited many sites to learn how Kansas City fights crime, including the City’s Emergency Operations Center, Greater Kansas City Crime Commission, our Police Academy, Narcotics and Vice Division and Gang Squads, Police Headquarters and the KCPD Crime Lab. She also got a look at our community policing efforts at the Westside CAN Center and rode along with patrol officers. She is pictured above with Deputy Chief Cheryl Rose.

Major Azevedo came to Kansas City just days after being honored as one of 10 International Women of Courage by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. The award is given to women around the globe who have advanced women’s rights in their countries at great personal risk. She came to KCPD to share her experiences with us and exchange ideas about how to make our respective communities safer.

Major Azevedo has done some outstanding work fighting crime and making a better community in Rio. Here’s a brief summary of what she’s accomplished, according to the U.S. State Department:

“Major Azevedo joined the Rio de Janeiro Military police in 1998 and, following her graduation in 2000, started working in police battalions and street repression operations. In 2007, Major Azevedo demonstrated extreme courage and commitment to her duties by successfully arresting a gang of criminals who had kidnapped and tortured her. As a result of her courage and success, she was invited to head the first “Police Pacification Unit” (UPP) in Rio de Janeiro, in the “favela” (slum) of Santa Marta. During her two years there, she has shut down drug dealing operations in the favela, established conflict mediation models, worked with state and local government institutions to improve garbage collection and health care, broadened education and technical training opportunities, and developed a successful community arts and crafts fair.”

We are very proud the State Department chose KCPD as a progressive law enforcement agency for Major Azevedo to come share what she’s done and to learn about how we fight crime.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Breaking down this weekend's homicides and aggravated assaults

There were multiple homicides and aggravated assaults in Kansas City this weekend, and I wanted to break them down to give a clearer picture of what happened:

• 10:22 a.m. Friday in the 800 block of Myrtle Avenue: In a domestic violence-related incident, officers were dispatched on an ambulance call of a woman bleeding from the mouth. She was pronounced dead. The victim’s boyfriend has been charged in the homicide.

• 12:23 p.m. Friday in the 8200 block of Wayne: While checking the welfare of a missing juvenile, officers found the body of a man. A suspect has been charged in that case. The motive was an argument.

• 2:51 p.m. Friday at 23rd and Hardesty: Officers attempted to stop a speeding vehicle, which did not stop. The vehicle proceeded to Truman Medical Center, where a man who had been shot was taken into the hospital. The victim is in grave condition. The motive was an argument. A suspect has been identified but is not yet in custody.

• 3:31 a.m. Saturday at 30th and Agnes: Officers responded to the sound of gunshots and found a man dead inside a vehicle. A motive is not yet known, but a suspect is in custody and awaiting charges.

What’s unique about these homicides and aggravated assaults is that suspects were identified within hours of the occurrence of each one. This is a result of the community’s willingness to get involved and excellent work by our men and women in the field.

Detectives also responded to several suspicious death calls over the weekend and are awaiting rulings about the causes of death from the Medical Examiner’s Office (such as an incident in the 1700 block of NE 101st Court). Possible suspects also have been identified in these cases.

The dead body located near railroad tracks at Cambridge and Blue Ridge on Friday was ruled a suicide. A body found in the woods in the 1800 block of Bristol might be that of a man who was reported missing from that area several months ago. The Medical Examiner has not yet determined the man’s identity or cause of death. However, the missing man lived a few houses up from where the body was discovered in a wooded area.

None of the incidents appear to be related to drugs or gangs. And in many of them, patrol officers were in the right place at the right time. In both the shootings at 23rd and Hardesty and 30th and Agnes, officers were right there. They apprehended the suspect almost immediately in the 30th and Agnes shooting. I sincerely appreciate the excellent work of those officers, as well as the detectives and crime scene technicians who put in tremendous efforts and hours of work this weekend.

We now stand at 18 homicides for 2012. This is more than we had at this time in 2011 or 2010, but less than in 2009 and 2008. However, this is still an unacceptable number of homicides. We must come together as a community to prevent these. The quick arrests of suspects in the violence this weekend indicates that we already are starting to do so.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Battling copper theft

Copper and metal theft are a persistent scourge on our community, causing millions of dollars of damage to individuals, companies, non-profits and local governments. The Police Department and City Council have worked together to create ordinances recently to curtail these thefts, which Officer Jason Cooley explains in this video:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We're ready for the Big 12 Tourney

As the Big 12 College Basketball Tournament is expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors to Downtown starting tomorrow, sports fans can rest assured your police department is making safety a top priority so you can have fun.

We successfully have managed this event for several years now, and there is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning to make sure it goes smoothly. First, you should know about street closures. The following streets closed today and yesterday and will remain so until the early morning hours of Sunday, March 11:

• Grand from 13th to 15th Street
• 14th Street from Main to Grand
• Walnut from 13th to 15th Street

Traffic officers will work to move traffic as smoothly as possible in these areas, but congestion is likely. Find an alternate route and give yourself extra time.

An additional 40 to 60 officers will be assigned Downtown during the tournament. You’ll see them on foot, horses, bicycles, and in cars.

Officers and detectives also will be patrolling parking areas all around Downtown and its outskirts to prevent thefts from vehicles. You can help prevent these thefts, as well, by not leaving anything of value in plain view in your vehicle (this includes GPS units, laptops, bags, cell phones, purses, cameras, and even loose change). Keep them at home, put them in your trunk before you leave home, or take them with you when you leave your vehicle.

Police also will be on the look-out for unlicensed ticket scalpers and underage drinking.

The Big 12 Tournament always is a fun event and great economic opportunity for Downtown Kansas City. We hope no one will need us during this time, but we’ll be more than ready if they do.

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