Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Community relationships, data lead to safer city

Kansas City Police conducted a big crime prevention initiative on Saturday. It involved tactical teams, some of our most advanced equipment and vehicles, and there were children everywhere. You can read the Kansas City Star article about it here

Many people may not have seen this community picnic and fair as a crime prevention event, but that is how I viewed it. Because at this picnic at 31st and Indiana, relationships were forged. People who may never before have felt comfortable approaching a police officer were enjoying watching their children try on tactical gear and climb in our vehicles. They mingled with the many officers who came and brought their families. And those urban-core children are learning to see police as people they can trust and turn to for help.

That is where crime prevention starts: positive relationships between the community and the police. Building those relationships has been the cornerstone of my tenure as police chief. It is something I stress to all KCPD staff and something I bring up at just about every meeting I attend. It’s why I try to get out into the neighborhoods as much as I can. And it’s why I launched the Community Support Division to enhance our outreach and victim support efforts.

We can throw out arrest statistics all day long, but those are reactive numbers. I want the Kansas City Missouri Police Department to work to proactively prevent crime. As I said, trusting relationships between the police and public are the foundation of crime prevention. Smarter policing also can impede criminal activity, and we are increasingly working toward that. Here are some examples of the data-driven strategies we’re undertaking to make Kansas City safer:

         Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) – This partnership between police, prosecutors, Missouri Probation and Parole and the University of Missouri-Kansas City targets those most likely to commit violent crime. It analyzes the networks of people involved in criminal activity, and law enforcement then goes after those at the epicenters. They are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Those on the fringes of the criminal networks are offered social services to turn their lives around. If they choose not to accept the help, they also face prosecution.

         Hot Spot Policing – I began this policing approach soon after I took office. We are allocating extra officers to the areas of the city where we know violent crime is most likely to take place. Putting additional resources in these areas is working.

         Law Enforcement Resource Center – This center features several components – crime analysts, detectives who collect and disperse intelligence information to officers and detectives on the street, crime mapping and more. Read more about it in our Informant newsletter

Data informs the majority of our decisions, like where and how to deploy officers and equipment, or who is most likely to commit violent crime.

Police are not saviors. We cannot fix the many societal ills that lead to crime. We are just a piece of the puzzle that includes partners like educators, faith-based organizations, local government, non-profits and businesses. We appreciate the work all these segments of the community do to make this city a safe place to live, work and play. 

We are not the only solution to crime prevention, but we must do everything possible to be of value to the community. We have to use our resources in the most intelligent ways possible. We must get out of our cars and listen to what the public has to say. We need to forge alliances with the law-abiding residents of this city, who are the vast majority. We should let the community know they can trust us and come to us with problems or information about crime. I have been working on these relationships from Day 1 and will continue to do so. I’m trying to make it the priority of every member of this department. Whether that takes the form of talking to neighbors at a shooting scene or inviting children to take a peek inside our armored vehicles, all of these interactions are valuable and forge the path to a safer community.

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