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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