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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