Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Remaining vigilant in Kansas City

In light of the tragic terrorist attack in Boston, many have asked what we’re doing to ensure security in Kansas City. The answer to that question is, “a lot.” While we have taken additional measures since the Boston bombings, a good deal of what we do is an ongoing and constant vigilance at the local, state and federal level that has been in place for years. This vigilance has led to the disruption of terrorist training and funding going on right here in Kansas City and has been part of every major event we plan for in the community.

In regard to the Boston attack specifically, our Homeland Security Unit and the Kansas City Terrorism Early Warning Center – a regional team of analysts – are searching numerous sources for any indication of if, where and when something may happen, not just in Kansas City proper but across the metropolitan area. They are staying in constant contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other governmental partners to obtain the latest information. We have received no credible threats for our area at this time.

We are constantly preparing for emergency response to natural or manmade incidents. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game was a prime example. About this time last year, we conducted a full-scale exercise with federal, state and local agencies that involved hundreds of players responding to a mock explosion with civilian casualties at Kauffman Stadium. That helped us further refine our emergency operations plan for the All-Star Game as well as our critical incident manual, which is updated regularly. We work with all city agencies at the Emergency Operations Center and exercise our capabilities on at least an annual basis. We have resources like a new fleet of helicopters, a mobile command post and a mobile communications trailer for incident management in Kansas City and throughout the region.

No one should be afraid to carry on with their normal activities. Run the race you planned to. Go to sporting events; enjoy concerts, shopping, dining and more. While it’s important that everyone carry on as normally as possible, we do ask that you remain aware of what’s going on around you. This is the case for regular crime as well as terrorist activities. If you see something suspicious, report it to law enforcement. The KC Terrorism Early Warning Center has some good guidelines on what could constitutes suspicious terrorist activity.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mediation Center provides vital service

Do you know what the No. 1 known motive for murder is in Kansas City? It’s not drugs, gangs or domestic violence. It’s arguments. Last year, 22 people were killed because they were involved in a dispute with someone who could not resolve the conflict without violence.

This deadly shortage of conflict resolution and anger management skills can be remedied. We have a great resource locally in the non-profit Community Mediation Center. Our police officers sometimes refer individuals involved in ongoing conflicts to the Center – usually neighbors with issues and landlords/tenants.

The Center’s goal is to give people the skills to deal with conflict at lower levels so it doesn’t escalate into violence. In addition to police, they also get referrals from places like schools, churches, the court and the City’s Aim 4 Peace program.

When the City’s mediation services were cut from the budget four years ago, the Community Mediation Center picked up the slack. They served 5,942 people in 2012, 61 percent of whom were from Kansas City, Mo. They do a lot of valuable work in this community without a lot of resources, so I’d encourage those who are interested to consider volunteering or supporting them in other ways. More information about how to do so is on their web site.

The Center also provides training to everyone from students to business professionals. I even plan to take their interpersonal conflict resolution training to make me more effective at my job.

Many people have called for ways to reduce violence in our city. Giving people the tools to resolve conflict is a major one that doesn’t get the attention it should. I’m glad organizations like the Community Mediation Center are there to step in the gap.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our department's new mission statement

We recently updated our department’s mission statement, and I wanted to share it with you and explain the change. This is the new statement:

To protect and serve with professionalism, honor and integrity.

Simply put, the mission statement is why we exist. It is a summary of what our daily practices should reflect as well as serve as a reminder of why we have chosen a career in law enforcement. Clarity and brevity are crucial components of the mission statement. However, of most importance is adherence to what the statement says.

We must consistently exhibit a servant-based attitude – an eagerness to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our department members also must continue to develop so we can contribute to reducing crime in Kansas City.

Our purpose must be clearly understood by all department members and communicated to other segments of the community, and I hope this new statement does that.

We are proud and honored to serve such an engaged community. Your continued support is needed and truly appreciated.

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