Monday, November 28, 2016

In large and dangerous gun battle, KCPD & others performed with valor and professionalism

An exceptionally large and violent shooting incident in the early morning hours Sunday tested the members of our department on all fronts, from courage to coordination. And I couldn’t be more proud of how we responded.

Here’s what happened: At approximately 2:18 a.m. Nov. 27, officers were called to Gregory & Prospect on the sound of shots. Upon arrival, officers observed suspects actively shooting at each other. Fearing for their safety, one officer fired shots. Due to the gunfire, three vehicles were involved in an accident. While securing that scene, officers heard numerous shots fired in their immediate area, for several minutes. Officers saw vehicles near the initial scene involved in a rolling shoot-out. Due to continuous gunfire and an active scene, KCPD requested assistance from police around the metro area. Law enforcement from numerous surrounding agencies responded and assisted with the incident, which spanned from 70th to 72nd streets, Prospect to Brooklyn. Seven people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Six have now been treated and released. No officers were injured during the incident. At this time one suspect stated he was shot by police and was treated for minor injuries.

This incident endangered the lives of hundreds of people. Much of the rolling gun battle took place on residential streets. It covered eight square blocks. Numerous houses were struck with bullets, and it is incredibly fortunate that no one inside them was hurt. Shots continued to be fired while police tried to aid those who were already shot. Those firing these shots had no regard for the life or safety of others. As I said in my previous post, this altercation didn’t arise from nowhere. Someone knew a dispute was brewing, and they didn’t tell us. Someone had to see at least one of these suspects angry and armed, and no one called until the bullets started flying. Police alone cannot stop this violence. We need your help to intervene.

That said, the police response to this incredibly dangerous incident is one of which all Kansas City, Mo., and metro-area residents should be proud. Much of that started with excellent direction and coordination from dispatchers. The amount of information that was coming in and the efficiency with which they distributed it was remarkable. Even with eight assisting outside agencies, they worked quickly and professionally to get everyone what and where they needed and kept track of all responding personnel. They truly are a credit to emergency telecommunicators everywhere.

On the ground, our officers rushed toward the danger. This was an incredibly volatile and dangerous situation with multiple active shooters, and the officers responded without hesitation. Where others would flee, they went right into the hail of gunfire. They risked their own lives and safety to protect the residents of our city, and their valor has not gone unnoticed. Everyone who responded to the Gregory and Prospect area that night showed up ready to work and with a positive attitude, even knowing the danger and the magnitude of the task ahead.

We also enjoyed an exceptional response from the metro-wide assist-the-officer call issued. Officers from eight different agencies responded to assist with everything from holding the perimeter of the incident to protecting multiple crime scenes to going to different hospitals where suspects/victims were taken. These officers were eager and ready to help, and I want to make sure everyone in the metro area knows what an asset they were. They came from the following agencies:

Ferrelview Police
Independence Police
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office
Missouri State Highway Patrol
North Kansas City Police
Raytown Police

Leawood, Kan., Police
Prairie Village, Kan., Police

I also want to thank all the responding Crime Scene technicians and detectives. The 8-square-block crime scene they had to process and canvass early Sunday morning was only the beginning of their duties. Their thorough and professional work will ensure that those involved in this violent criminal act will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

While the act of violence early Sunday morning was awful, I could not have asked for a better or more professional team to handle it. I apologize if I left anyone out. The response was so seamless; it can be difficult to discern everyone who was involved. I just know I am very proud of everyone who responded, and the residents of Kansas City should be, as well.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A majority of this year's homicides could not have been prevented by law enforcement

As of today, 107 people have been killed in a homicide in Kansas City this year. That is a significantly higher amount than at this time in years past. But what is different about this year is the relationship between victims and suspects. Contrary to popular belief, a majority of these homicides could not have been prevented by law enforcement. No amount of officers on patrol can stop a simmering family dispute or someone who chooses to end a petty argument with a firearm.

Through initiatives like the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, we have made a significant impact on what we call group-related violence. This violence arises out of criminal groups’ illegal activities and cycles of retaliation. (Some might refer to these groups as “gangs,” but not all of them are.) When KC NoVA fully came to fruition in 2014, Kansas City experienced its lowest homicide rate in more than 40 years, with 82 murders. And you know what? The group-related homicide rate has remained relatively consistent since then. The work of KC NoVA and its community partners is keeping that in check with everything from social services to strict enforcement on members of particular groups in which a violent crime occurs.

But there are so many other homicides we can do nothing about. Consider the two people murdered this past weekend. One was a son who killed his father. The other was a woman who got into an argument with another woman and asked her boyfriend to go over and confront the woman she was fighting with. It appears the boyfriend shot up a car full of people, not just the woman in question. One died, and three others were transported to hospitals in critical condition. The only way law enforcement could have intervened in either of those situations was if someone notified us. And we are begging you to let us know when something like this is occurring or about to occur.

In so many of this year’s homicides, someone had to know that something was amiss. Someone had to know a dispute was brewing. Someone had to know that their friend or family member was angry and armed. If someone had called us, officers might have been able to stop the homicides from ever taking place. As City Council Member Alissia Canady said at our Board of Police Commissioners meeting this morning, “Everyone is looking for us to do something, but it needs to come from the community.”

We know the motive in 53 of this year’s 107 homicide cases. Of those 53 homicide motives we know, 24 of them were arguments. Instead of resolving a conflict through discussion and compromise, poor anger management skills and easy access to guns have led to the death of at least 24 people in Kansas City this year. Again, in many of these cases, multiple people knew that a conflict was at hand, but no one reached out to law enforcement to ask for help in changing the eventual outcome.

The second-most frequent motive that we know of in this year’s homicides has been domestic violence, with 14 cases. Two of those were murder-suicides. Not all were intimate partner violence. Several involved parents and children. Domestic violence rarely erupts into homicidal levels of violence out of the blue. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship – even if it is with your own child – please contact us. We can work with victims to get them the resources they need to stay safe.

Seven of this year’s homicide victims have been 16 or younger. Several of them were young children – innocent bystanders who were victims of adults unable to resolve conflicts in a civil manner. Their loss should outrage us all.

With homicides up over recent years, and many people asking us, “why?” I encourage everyone in Kansas City to ask themselves that question. I ask everyone to consider what your role is in decreasing the violence in our community because you have much better reach and influence than we do over the people you know. If you know someone is angry, unstable and armed, tell us. If you know a conflict is about to escalate into violence, tell us. If you know someone who is being victimized by a violent abuser, tell us. It’s the only way police can intervene.

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