Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's been in my e-mail inbox lately

In just the last two weeks, I have received multiple e-mails from residents praising members of this department. Several had gone on ride-alongs and were impressed to see how officers conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis. Others were pleased with the way officers resolved a situation. I wanted to share some of these messages with you:

From a woman whose car stereo was stolen last fall and didn’t expect to get it back:

I was very surprised to receive a call from Detective Herriman on May 14th that our stereo had been located in a pawn shop. He explained what actions I could take, and when I expressed that I did not want to press charges, but was unsure about contacting the owner myself, he told me that he might be able to retrieve the stereo with me, which was great because we had never replaced it. He asked if I could meet him at the pawn shop, and I explained that my husband had just had surgery, and I had been told not to leave him alone for the first few days of recovery. He then told me that he could drop the stereo off at our home that same afternoon. I was really shocked by how helpful he was, especially for such a small item!

Not only was Detective Herriman extremely helpful and friendly, but I think it's really incredible that pawn shops and other retailers are being checked for stolen goods. Even though property crimes like these are minor offenses, it really does increase my sense of safety at how thorough the police force in Kansas City is. Thank you so much for all you do, especially Detective Herriman!

From a woman who did a ride-along in the Metro Patrol Division on May 21

We hear a great deal of media coverage regarding Kansas City’s exploding homicide rate and, understandably, it deserves the media’s attention. But, we rarely hear about the outstanding service our KMCO Police Officers provide day-in-and-day-out. They are the first responders – they put their own lives on the line every day to protect our citizenry and, unfortunately, they receive little public recognition for their tremendous effort.

I watched Officer Grizzoffi deal with a mother of four, living in deplorable conditions, and yet he was kind and considerate of her circumstances. As the night progressed I saw him interact with numerous individuals who would push the limit of tolerance for many individuals, including myself. I observed Officer Grizzoffi assist 2 other officers with the detainment and arrest of a habitual criminal calmly and professionally. And I was moved by Officer Grizzoffi’s effort to reach out to a troubled woman who had attempted suicide with compassion and sympathy.

Nothing I do professionally, on any given day, no matter how “taxing” I find it to be, can compare to what our police officers face on a daily basis. I am very thankful we are protected by exceptional policemen, like Officer Grizzoffi.

From a woman who lives in South Kansas City:

I'd just like to say thanks to all the officers, in cars and on horses, who did such a great job peacefully dispelling the very large group of kids attempting to overrun the 7-11 at Blue Ridge Blvd and 107th Street around noon on Wednesday, May 23rd! Their approach and plan was just perfect, and their professionalism evident.

From a man who went on a ride-along in the South Patrol Division on May 11:

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Ride Along program this past May 11. I would also like to commend the officer that I accompanied, Officer Cooper and his partner, Jason. It was a terrific learning experience for me and gave me insight into the challenges the police on the street face every day. Officer Cooper displayed sharp reaction in a difficult domestic violence situation and handled it with poise. Both of these officers showed a clear understanding of the law they are assigned to uphold and are attentive to the procedures required to fulfill case duty.

Send comments to

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Take-home police vehicles benefit communities, public safety

A police car in a neighborhood can go a long way toward preventing crime. That’s one of many reasons I support our department’s use of take-home vehicles. They increase police visibility, increase safety and improve response times to critical incidents. As resources permit, I plan to assign take-home vehicles to officers who reside in areas where there is a high incidence of crime to increase police visibility in hopes of reducing crime and building relationships. Eventually, I would like all patrol officers to be assigned take-home vehicles.

On May 17, an off-duty detective was driving his take-home vehicle in the Northland when he witnessed an armed robbery. He followed the suspects to Truman and Paseo, where patrol officers helped arrest them. The robbery victims were not injured, and the suspects have been charged. This is just one of many examples of how these cars are used to protect the public. Who knows how many other crimes would have occurred had that detective not intervened? Those suspects could have robbed and hurt many others throughout the city.

By being alert and having his police vehicle, that detective was able to stop armed robbers, even though he wasn’t on the clock. Homicide detectives, Tactical Response Team officers and many others get called out at all times of the day, and take-home vehicles get them there quickly to speak with as many witnesses as possible and/or to protect the public. A few years ago, when there was an active shooter at Ward Parkway Center, I was off duty but able to arrive on scene within several minutes because I had a take-home car.

And just having police cars out and about in the city brings a sense of security among law-abiding citizens and a sense of uneasiness among those who commit crimes. This article from Government Fleet magazine does a good job outlining the many benefits of police take-home vehicles.

Take-home vehicle use is carefully monitored so it is not abused. These vehicles and those who use them are audited every year to determine whether each vehicle’s use is justified. You can read those audits here. You also can see our policy governing take-home vehicle use here. Keep in mind that audits of take-home vehicles do not examine feelings of safety, improved relationships or other benefits of having police vehicles that are readily available to respond to critical incidents.

As long as police take-home vehicles continue to prevent crime and allow for quick response times, you will continue to see them on the streets of Kansas City.

Send comments to 

Monday, May 21, 2012

New recruits reflect community

Thirty-four men and women are beginning the process today to become Kansas City Missouri Police officers. Today, they are filling out paperwork, getting their equipment issued and undergoing orientation. Tomorrow will be their first day at the Police Academy as part of our nearly eight-month training program.

This group represents the community they will serve well. A third of them are minorities (nine are black and two are Hispanic), and 20 percent of them are women. I thank our Human Resources Unit for recruiting and processing such qualified and diverse candidates.

I look forward to watching these men and women become Kansas City Police Officers.

Send comments to

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hot spot policing is about more than just enforcing laws

I told you earlier about how we were stepping up police presence in hot spot areas where nearly half of the city's crime takes place. I wanted to show you that this doesn't necessarily mean just arresting a lot of people. It is equally important to build relationships and trust.

This past weekend, several officers bought popsicles and delivered them to children and families in one of the hot spots. They ended up getting engaged in a few games of street basketball. The officers lost three games in a row, but everyone had a good time. Those residents who were hanging out with the police were truly grateful that they're trying to make their neighborhood safer. The pictures below were taken by a sergeant on his cell phone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Police Memorial Service is tomorrow


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will honor its 119 officers killed in the line of duty throughout the department’s history with a Memorial Service beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 17, in front of Police Headquarters on Locust Street, between 11th and 12th streets.

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

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Kansas City No Violence Alliance

Today I joined several of our partners in announcing KC NoVA – the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. This focused deterrence law enforcement initiative seeks to reduce violent crime in Kansas City and is a partnership between the Kansas City Police Department, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, City of Kansas City, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Missouri Board of Probation and Parole.

The National Institutes of Justice define focused deterrence as “A crime prevention program that targets a specified crime problem by applying a concentrated strategy or tactic within a specified high-crime-intensity area. That is, intense traffic enforcement within a high-crime area will have a general deterrence effect, but intense traffic enforcement that uses a specified approach to stop only suspicious individuals within a highly defined area.

A similar approach has seen success in other cities like Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Rochester, N.Y. We took the best of those models and have put them together here in Kansas City.

The leaders of these partnership agencies have been meeting since January to determine the best way to address violent crime. This is one piece of many, but it is a significant one. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of victims. To do so, the idea is to go after the most violent criminals we have in Kansas City. We have a list of about 20 right now (that list changes as some are murdered or incarcerated). We will work hard to get firearms out of the hands of those who should not legally possess them. Eighty-three percent of this year’s homicides have been carried out with a gun.

For less violent offenders – and those who can be reached outside the criminal justice system – we want to give them opportunities. This can be everything from job training to anger management. Social services will be a big piece of KC NoVA.

Police will not take a “zero-tolerance” approach in communities devastated by violent crime. We will be respectful and professional. But we will go after the most violent offenders. We will map out who they know and determine the best ways to prosecute them in such a way that they will no longer pose a risk to the community.

Much appreciation is due Greater Kansas LISC, which secured a $74,000 grant for KC NoVA. About $44,000 will go to hiring a manager for the project. The other $30,000 will go to the University of Missouri Kansas City’s Department of Criminology. UMKC will begin the project by doing some extensive research. Through interviews with community members and law enforcement, faculty will conduct a social networking analysis that identifies individuals known to be committing or contributing to neighborhood violence. The analysis also will map all the linkages between these individuals, including informal alliances or disputes.

Individuals who sincerely want to choose a new path will be offered services to help them. Those who don’t will be severely prosecuted.

Anytime we try something new, there are critics. Those who say, “It’s just another program.” But we aim for this to be sustainable and effective. It may take a year or more to see results, but I am confident it ultimately will lead to a safer Kansas City.

Send comments to

Friday, May 11, 2012

KCPD Twitter account ranks in top five nationally


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s Twitter account now ranks in the top five among large municipal police departments in the United States.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) released the rankings this week. Click to see the full list. Kansas City comes in at No. 5 for municipal law enforcement agencies with 1,000 or more officers, behind Boston, New York City, Baltimore and Seattle. At the time the IACP released the rankings, Kansas City Police had 10,817 followers. They now have more than 11,100.

“Twitter has proved to be an excellent way for us to communicate with the people we serve,” Chief Darryl Forté said.

Live tweeting events – such as last month’s tweet along – have garnered many followers and given them a look behind the scenes of the police department. Another tweet along will take place in the near future.

KCPD shares breaking news and much more at  

Send comments to

Monday, May 7, 2012

Area command system deploying in Kansas City

Residents who live in “hot spot” areas should be seeing police presence stepped up in their neighborhoods. This weekend, we deployed additional resources on the streets as part of our area command system. We pulled officers and detectives from all over the department to staff the deployment. Some haven’t been out in the field for some time, but they have been put on special assignment to battle the scourge of violence in those areas.

I also have reassigned a Deputy Chief to oversee this deployment. He is the Designated Area Command Coordinator. His duties are, in part, bringing resources to the crime hot spot areas, monitoring activity in those areas and engaging department elements.

We experienced several successes with this deployment method over the weekend. In one incident, a suspect who had just shot somebody fled and was immediately apprehended by police who were in the area. That suspect has been charged.

The additional officers will answer 911 calls for service, but their primary goal is to proactively patrol these neighborhoods and deter violence. We want them to identify and arrest those who possess firearms illegally. We also want them to build trust with the law-abiding residents of these areas.

We know we are in the right place. More than 50 percent of this year’s homicides have occurred in two hot spot areas or within a couple blocks of them. This homicide phenomenon is not new, (in the last 40 years, there were just nine years in which Kansas City had fewer than 100 homicides), but this method of concentrating resources in a small area where we know crime is taking place is a new approach in our city.

I am concerned about the greater number of homicides so far this year compared to this time last year (39 vs. 27). Last year saw a spike of homicides in November, however, and we ended the year with 114. At this point in 2009, Kansas City had 41 homicides and ended the year with 110, which unfortunately, is about average. You can see that we are about on pace with the number of homicides in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by looking at our Daily Homicide Analysis. Just one homicide is one too many, however, and as you can see, police are doing everything they can to address violent crime.

In addition to more manpower, we’re deploying more technology. At a press conference on Friday, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver announced the partnership between the police department, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Federal Transit Administration to install ShotSpotter technology. This equipment will help police respond to the sound of gunshots much more quickly to apprehend shooters and assist victims.

This area command system is not a project or a program. It is the way we will do business: putting resources in the communities where they’re most needed. But police alone cannot prevent violence or homicides. The public must step up to decry the violence and cooperate with law enforcement. More and more have been doing that, which has led to increased clearance rates and dangerous people behind bars.

Send comments to

Friday, May 4, 2012

ShotSpotter is coming to Kansas City

I was pleased this morning to join Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Mayor Sly James, and several others at the Metro Center at 39th and Troost to announce the partnership that will bring ShotSpotter to Kansas City. This technology is “a gunfire alert and analysis solution” that uses several acoustic sensors that activate instantly when gunfire occurs. “The sensors and software triangulate and pinpoint the precise location of each round fired within seconds.”

ShotSpotter has the power to get officers to shooters and victims very quickly. I’ve done the research, and it’s a great crime-fighting tool. Even before I was chief, it was something I wished the Kansas City Police Department could have, but we never could identify a funding source for it. Rep. Cleaver made it happen. He saw how effective it was in Washington, D.C., and put forth a lot of effort getting it to Kansas City.

He worked with the KCATA (Kansas City Area Transportation Authority) to reprogram federal grant dollars left over when their Troost Max project came in under budget to a public safety project that will benefit everyone. KCATA Executive Director Mark Huffer said today this is the first police-transit ShotSpotter partnership in the nation.

Because criminals don’t tell us where they’re going to be, we’re not going to announce exactly where ShotSpotter will be. But it will be in high-crime neighborhoods and/or near urban core transit routes. The police department is seeking more funding possibilities to expand the system.

Sixty-six other cities use ShotSpotter with great success, and I’m confident Kansas City will have success, too. As Rep. Cleaver said this morning, “This is a rather bold attempt to silence the violence.”

It is just one piece of a larger effort to stop violence. We’re deploying more police to hard-hit areas and continue to build trust with residents. We also implore the community to not tolerate criminal behavior in their neighborhoods.

Send comments to

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thanks for coming on our tweet along

I’d like to thank everyone who followed our tweet along on Thursday night. (If you missed it, you can catch up at It was just four hours, but I hope it gave you insight into what officers encounter on a typical shift.

Officers John Newell and William Baker, with whom the ride along took place, have nearly 30 years of police experience combined. They are very proactive. As you probably saw, when they weren’t responding to 911 calls, they were out looking for suspects with warrants or patrolling areas where they’d had problems with violent crime and narcotics.

I really appreciate everyone who asked great questions along the way. Some of those included how officers are assigned to the areas they patrol, how arrest wagons work, and even why officers would pull over a car with a possible fake temp tag. You can see all the answers at  

We gained 1,000 new followers in 24 hours the day of the tweet along and plan to do more in the future. This tweet along was in the Metro Patrol Division, so going forward, we’ll likely highlight other parts of the city, too.

We also received many requests about how the public can go on an actual ride along with KCPD officers. You must be at least 18 years old, live or work in Kansas City, Mo., and be willing to undergo a criminal background check. You can download the application and submit it to the patrol division station where you’d like to ride along.

Overall, I hope the community gained a greater of understanding of how the front-line officers or our department do business. The community engagement that happened in this tweet along is another step forward in building the relationships between police and citizens that will make Kansas City safer.

Send comments to