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.

Send comments to

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!

Send comments to

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."

Send comments to