Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Secure guns, protect children

It is so easy to keep a firearm out of the hands of children. And yet loaded guns keep falling into the hands of young children in our city, often with tragic consequences. Chief Darryl Forté addressed that on this blog last December

If you have a gun in your home, it is imperative that it is stored safely. If you do not have a safe in which to keep your firearm, you can get a free gun lock with no questions asked at any of our six patrol stations, Children’s Mercy Hospital, from anti-crime groups and at a number of other locations. Our officers have even passed these out in areas where children have been shot accidentally. These locks can be installed in less than 15 seconds, as demonstrated by Captain Ryan Mills for KSHB reporter Sarah Plake.

Gun locks are just a start. Adults should not leave guns lying around in areas accessible to children. They should sit down with their kids to discuss firearm safety and the dangers guns can pose. Every officer on this department has undergone extensive and continuous firearm safety training. I’d wager all of them who have children at home have gone to great lengths to store their guns securely and have had discussions about gun safety. I know I did when my kids were younger.

And as we come up on the Fourth of July holiday, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and I implore you to refrain from celebratory gunfire. Bullets fired into the air come down, damaging property and injuring or killing people. As you saw on the aforementioned blog from Chief Forté, a 16-year-old was struck by celebratory gunfire last July 4th. And this year, the parents of Blair Shanahan Lane, an 11-year-old girl killed by celebratory gunfire in 2011, are once again going door-to-door with our officers in neighborhoods where our ShotSpotter system detected high levels of gunfire on Independence Day last year. Blair’s parents will tell their story of loss and how easily the tragedy could have been prevented. In the neighborhoods they visited in 2016, July 4th gunfire dropped by 100 percent from the same day in 2015, according to ShotSpotter.

There are many shootings that are difficult to predict and prevent. Accidental shootings by and of children are not. Very simple steps will stop the vast majority of these tragedies.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Additional resources deployed to areas experiencing violent crime, other factors

Violent crime does not occur in a vacuum, so we are using intelligence information to deploy resources in an effort to address the myriad issues related to violent crime. This week, we began using officers in some of our more flexible units – Traffic Division, Special Operations Division and Violent Crimes Enforcement Division (the enforcement arm of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance) – to proactively patrol areas that we have identified as experiencing high levels of violent crime and other types of incidents.

We’re recognizing that certain factors we may previously have thought were unrelated do play together. In areas where you find a lot of fatality traffic accidents and drug overdoses, you also find violent crime. We’re looking at numerous other factors, as well, including drive-by shootings, non-fatal shootings, homicides and more. Our Law Enforcement Resource Center is using that information to identify up to four relatively small geographic zones where additional officers are proactively patrolling and creating an increased, visible police presence.

These zones are fluid and could change as often as every 72 to 96 hours. Members across our department now attend biweekly IRIS (Incident Review/Information Sharing) meetings to share intelligence and information about violent crime. As the geography of where drive-by shootings, traffic fatalities and other factors shift, so too will the zones where we will deploy additional resources. We’ll decide at our IRIS meetings where these zones should be located. While we will not publicize the exact location of these zones, residents in these areas should notice the increased police presence.

I want to be clear this is NOT a zero-tolerance initiative. It is intelligence-led policing. We are putting extra resources in these violence-stricken neighborhoods to help the residents feel safer where they live. I want these officers to build relationships with the residents and deter violent crime, not stop and cite law-abiding citizens for minor infractions. We hope the residents will partner with us to warn us of festering disagreements that could escalate into violence, possible instances of retaliation or provide information that may help solve violent crimes.

This is one of several measures we are putting in place to impact the recent escalation of violent crime Kansas City is experiencing. It complements our other proactive crime prevention initiatives. The redeployment of officers started this week and will continue indefinitely. We felt this was important to do to make the people living in these areas feel safe, so we’re not putting a timetable on it.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Update on implementation of body-worn cameras

Last fall, the KCPD engaged in a 12-week pilot project to determine the cost and infrastructure required to implement body-worn cameras on all patrol officers. We presented the results of that project to the Board of Police Commissioners this week. I also wanted to share those results with our community.

The pilot project was a very scaled one. The cameras were used only by a few squads at a time. Just those few officers produced an average of 147 videos totaling 82,000 megabytes (MB) a day. The whole project produced 9,300 videos and 5.1 million MB total. Scaling that upward department-wide, we determined we would need 2.4 petabytes of storage (that’s more than 1 billion megabytes). Under the industry-standard 5-year contract, that kind of storage would cost about $3.2 million. For access and security purposes, we determined an on-site server for storage would be best, as opposed to a cloud-based solution.

Those are just the storage costs. Initial equipment costs would be about $2.1 million, with a $56,000 annual maintenance cost. To handle the increased requests for the video from our own officers and investigators, prosecutors and other attorneys, media and the public, we would require up to 25 additional positions at the cost of about $2.2 million annually in salary and benefits. Two new network administrator positions also would be needed at about $173,000.

Finally, there is the infrastructure piece. In order to get the videos from the patrol stations where they will be downloaded to the central server, we need a robust fiber optic connection. We can have all the data in the world, but if there’s no highway for it to travel on, it does no one any good. Our current bandwidth is just enough to handle the videos and storage from our in-car camera systems. It could not handle the additional data. Fortunately, we are working with the City’s Information Technology Department on implementing these fiber solutions.

Those are the results of the pilot project. As you can see, body-worn cameras will be a costly undertaking, and we must work with both elected City officials and staff to determine funding priorities, not just for the police department but for all city services.

Philosophically, we support body-worn cameras and want to implement them as soon as is feasible. But in our research, we have found too many agencies that – in an effort to launch body-worn cameras quickly – created a program that was unsustainable. Some are even being forced to roll back their programs. We have taken a very measured approach because we want to be good stewards who will keep the promises we make. If we say we’re going to implement body-worn cameras, we will, and we will have the storage, infrastructure and personnel to properly support and maintain them.

We also met with many community members to draft a policy for body-worn cameras and the footage they capture. We listened to their concerns and combined them with lessons other law enforcement agencies have learned in their use of body-worn cameras to create a policy that we believe fosters transparency and accountability while protecting community members’ privacy.

We have long been supportive of video to ensure accountability, to identify any issues that could require training and to provide indisputable accounts of incidents. Our in-car camera systems (“dash cams”) have been in use since 1999 and are currently installed on all 337 of our patrol cars. Any body-worn camera systems must complement the in-car cameras we have in place. We will continue to keep the public updated on the progress of the body-worn camera implementation at KCPD.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org