Monday, December 31, 2018

As security cameras proliferate, they're preventing and solving more crime in KC

As security cameras become cheaper, higher quality and more accessible, we are seeing tremendous benefits from them in both preventing and solving crime. They’ve been in the news a lot lately for their role in capturing package thieves, but they can help us solve everything from a burglary to a murder.

The partnerships we’ve formed with the community and a security camera provider have further enhanced the effectiveness of these cameras. If you have not yet registered for WatchKC, I encourage you to do so. WatchKC is a program in which residents and businesses can let us know that they have cameras. We then put those on a map that only certain detectives can see. The detectives can ask those camera owners if they caught any footage related to crime that has happened in the area. It’s a lot faster than walking door-to-door, so detectives can use their time more effectively.

We also partnered with Ring on their Neighbors by Ring App in October. This allows us to see videos and crime information Ring users share on the Neighbors app in real time. Police cannot see any identifying information about the user, just the block on which they live. As one of our crime analysts said, “That is my favorite part of the day: looking to see if anyone added video in our patrol division.”

These pictures don’t just help us – they help neighbors look out for each other. We’ve seen increased neighborhood awareness through these cameras and people sharing what they’ve recorded on social media and apps. That makes residents more aware of what’s going on around them and leads them to take preventative measures. It also makes them more willing to call us if they see something suspicious.

People caught on camera doing suspicious or criminal things at your home or business rarely commit just one crime. These videos and pictures help us link them to numerous other crimes.

So if you got a security camera for the holidays, we’d love for you to help us solve and prevent crime by registering with WatchKC or joining the Neighbors by Ring app.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Missouri's new medical marijuana law and KCPD

Earlier this month, Missouri voters approved Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana. I’ve heard many questions about how this will affect our enforcement activity. The short answer is: it won’t.

Amendment 2 allows state-licensed physicians to recommend marijuana use to patients. Doctor-approved patients must obtain an identification card from the state indicating they are permitted to use medical marijuana. With the card, they will be allowed to grow six flowering plants in their homes and purchase 4 ounces of dried marijuana or equivalent from a state-licensed dispensary. The state must begin accepting applications for qualifying patients no later than June 4, 2019.

The passing of this ballot measure added Article XVI to the Missouri Constitution. Part of that amendment states, “This section is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The section does not allow for the public use of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana.”

Because criminal laws about recreational marijuana use have not changed, neither will our enforcement. The members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department take an oath to enforce state statutes. Until laws change, we will conduct business in accordance with our oath and the laws of this state. For felony-level marijuana possession cases (35 or more grams), we will continue to submit case files to all the county prosecutors’ offices in Kansas City, depending on where the offense took place: Clay, Platte, Jackson and Cass.

Most misdemeanor-level cases will continue to be submitted to city prosecutors. While the possession of 35 grams of marijuana or less carries a fine of just $25, it is still a misdemeanor and will be noted as such on an individual’s criminal record. The passage of Missouri’s medical marijuana law in no way changes that. It does, however, raise many other questions regarding firearms, employment and more that are beyond law enforcement.

Police do not make laws. Legislators – and in this case, citizen petitions and voters – do that. We are sworn to enforce the laws as they are written, regardless of what is trendy or popular, and we will continue to do so. If there comes a day that marijuana is fully legalized, of course we will adapt and treat it as any other legal substance that also can cause impairment.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Giving our all to get a triple murderer into custody ASAP

We have been working diligently to combat violent crime in our city. What happened on Sunday morning was the epitome of senseless violence: in the course of about an hour, one suspect killed three people in three different places and shot two more in South Kansas City and Raytown. A 4-year-old child was among the injured. The shootings were not random and appear to be domestic violence-related. 

We immediately mobilized as many resources as possible to find and stop someone who had very quickly become a serial killer. In addition to patrol officers regularly assigned to the areas, we brought in more than 100 people - detectives from nearly all of our investigative units, Tactical Team officers, and our federal partners with the U.S. Marshals, FBI and ATF - to identify and track down the suspect. We also identified and located family members who could be potential victims and told them about what was happening so they could get to safety. Rosilyn Temple and Mothers in Charge were there comforting the loved ones of our numerous victims and helping them understand what we needed to do as police to put an end to the spate of violence. Within 12 hours, the suspect was in custody. Issac Fisher has now been charged with three counts of murder and 15 other charges.

During the course of the investigation into Fisher's location, we did something we don't do often: we asked people in the neighborhoods where we thought he might be to stay inside. We also flooded the area with police, but telling people to stay in was the best protection we could provide at the time. We know this was a scary time for some of our South KC residents, and I appreciate everyone remaining calm. I hope you know we were doing everything we could to get him into custody as quickly as possible to prevent any further violence. 

Our investigators, with assistance from the community, were able to track the suspect to a relative's house about 10:30 p.m. Sunday and took him into custody without incident. I commend the detectives and officers who gave all they had to this case. We wouldn't do this job if we didn't care deeply about the safety of our residents, and in no case was that more evident than how we came together and deployed every available resource on Sunday to find and arrest a violent individual before he could hurt anyone else.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

August homicides, case progress and improved community cooperation

August was a difficult month for Kansas City, Mo., in terms of violent crime. There were 20 homicides. Each one of those victims is someone’s loved one. Someone’s friend. We are working hard to hold the people who commit these heinous acts accountable. Despite the influx of murders, our detectives have done an admirable job of investigating and solving these crimes. They have literally worked around the clock.

We have four homicide squads, and they rotate being on call. On several occasions this month, the Homicide Unit commander had to put more than one squad on call. At one point during the weekend of Aug. 4 and 5, every single homicide squad and detective was either on call, on standby or actively working, just to handle the workload. That caused many of them to break or change their weekend plans to handle active cases.  I want to publicly commend them for their hard work, which I think you’ll better understand when you read the below.

While all these new homicides were taking place, our detectives also managed to solve three prior cases this August, including a triple murder. We’ve outlined those below, too.  Year to date, we now have the highest homicide clearance rate we’ve experienced in the last six years. As of Aug. 31, we were at 74 percent. (That’s according to FBI’s Unified Crime Reporting definition of clearance, which credits the clearance to the year the clearance occurred, not the year the homicide was committed. So past years’ homicides solved this year figure into the 2018 clearance rate.) Consider these homicide clearance rates from where we have been as of Aug. 29 in previous years (also according to the UCR clearance definition):

08-29-18               74%
08-29-17               45%
08-29-16               63%
08-29-15               53%
08-29-14               65%
08-29-13               62%

Even in the cases that aren’t cleared, you’ll see there are few cases in which detectives have no idea what happened. I’ve seen a lot of homicide cases over the years in which detectives know exactly who the suspect is but need witnesses' help to get the evidence needed to arrest and prosecute a person. And several of those happened in August. Because no matter how good they are, our detectives cannot solve these cases without your help. We must work together to bring justice for grieving families and to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. Fortunately, the improving clearance rates are evidence that this is happening more and more.

I wanted to start by sharing the non-August 2018 cases our homicide detectives got to prosecution last month:

October 2, 2017, at 7601 Monroe, Victim Marco Green.
Suspect: William Johnson.
Johnson shot Green while he sat in the back of a car. Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

October 10, 2017, at 4900 E. 17th St., Victims:  Jennifer and Victor Portillo, Yessenia Ahumana.
Suspect: Deaundre Brown.
Brown was present when the three victims were shot – one of whom was his ex-girlfriend – in a reported drug deal gone bad. He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of armed criminal action.

July 28, 2018, at 8503 East 92nd St., Victim Deandrea Vine.
Suspect Xzavier McDowell
McDowell stabbed the victim, his girlfriend, to death in an apparent domestic violence incident. He has been charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence.

Now, here are the August 2018 homicide cases and the progress detectives have made on them. On most of the cases that haven’t already been charged, we know who did it. On several of them, we just need the right witnesses to come forward or the right forensic evidence processed in order to prosecute. I’d like to remind everyone of the $10,000 award available for information leading to charges in these cases by contacting the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477). You will remain anonymous:

Aug. 1 -  5018 Chestnut,  Victim:  BERNICE BROWN,  black female, age 43
Officers responded to a large outside disturbance that was updated to a shooting. They found the victim in the street suffering from a gunshot wound.  Suspect Tyjuan Caldwell was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. 

Aug. 1 -  3604 Bridge Manor Dr.,  Victim:  Hao Xingdong, Asian male, age 38
Officers responded to a shooting and located the victim on the side of the road suffering from a gunshot to the back of the head.  It was reported the suspect was running down the road shooting at a vehicle with a shotgun.  Two other victims received non-life threatening injuries.  Suspect Curtrail J. Hudson was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Aug. 2 – 22nd and Walrond,  Victim:  Tyrone Standifer, black male, age 54
Officers were dispatched to the area of 18th and Prospect on a reported shooting and located two victims inside a vehicle.  Both had been shot, and Standifer was deceased from a gunshot wound.  Police believe the shooting occurred in the area of 22nd and Walrond. Detectives have some forensic leads but still need tips.    

Aug. 5 -  1300 E. 89th St.,  Victim:  Shanterria Edwards, black female, age 26
Officers heard the souths of gunshots in the area and responded to investigate.  They found the deceased victim inside a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds.  There is no suspect information at this time. 

Aug. 5 -  107th and Greenwood,  Victim: Cyrenaica Lang, black female, age 55
Officers were dispatched on a medical nature unknown.  When they got to the scene, they found the victim in the street, unresponsive. EMS responded and declared her deceased. It appears the victim had been shot. We have a subject of interest in this case and are working with the Crime Lab on further evidence.

Aug. 7 – 4909 East 39th Place, Victim:  Leo Woodruff, black male, age 17
Three days earlier, at 11:38 p.m. Aug. 4, officers responded to a shots fired call. Upon arrival, they found the victim lying in the street suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Woodruff died at a hospital on Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. We have good leads and continue to identify and interview people connected with the case.

Aug. 7 – 17th and White, Victim:  Justin P. Graham, white male, age 26
A resident contacted officers to tell them there was a body in the woods. They went to the wooded area the resident had indicated and discovered a decomposed body, which was later ruled a homicide. Detectives have good leads, and the investigation continues. 

Aug. 7 – 9th and Harrison, Victim: Terriante McClinton, black male, age 27
Officers were dispatched at 11:30 p.m. on a reported sound of shots. They found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. One survived, and the other succumbed to his injuries. An argument between several people preceded the shooting.  It appears the shooting occurred at or near the park in the southwest corner of 9th and Harrison. Detectives have identified a subject of interest and are looking for him.

Aug. 8 – 6801 St. John, Victim: Brittanie K. Broyles, white female, age 28
A truck driver coming to pick up supplies near 6801 St. John reported a dead body among several telephone poles on the ground outside. The driver called police at about 9:14 a.m. Police saw that the woman was dead from an apparent gunshot wound. Detectives have identified a subject of interest and are working with other department elements on the investigation.

Aug. 11 – 6112 Tracy, Victim:  Dajuan G. Alvarez, black male, age 30
At about 11:26 p.m., subjects dropped the victim off at a hospital emergency room and left. Doctors initially thought the victim had been stabbed. He died at the hospital. The people who dropped him off eventually came back to the hospital, and police questioned them. They told police the victim had been in a fight and had gotten shot, which an autopsy later confirmed. Police have gotten several tips and have a possible subject of interest. They continue to work on getting witnesses to come forward.

Aug. 12 – 3543 Prospect, Victim:  Jerel A. Price, black male, age 27
The gunshot detection system Shotspotter alerted police to a sound of shots about 11:53 p.m. at 3543 Prospect Ave. They found the victim with gunshot wounds in the northbound lanes of traffic. Nearby security video shows the victim had an altercation with two black males, one of whom pulled out a gun and shot the victim. Detectives are trying to identify those two men.

Aug. 15 – 12550 Raytown Road, Victims: Keith Wasmer, age 25, and Michael R. Brewer, age 29, both white males
At about 12:50 p.m. KCPD officers were dispatched to the area of 12550 Raytown Road on a reported dead body call. Upon arrival, officers were directed to a remote location approximately 3/4 of a mile west of the dispatched location. This area is heavily wooded and near a trail. They located the two victims’ bodies. Despite their state of decomposition, the Jackson County Medical Examiner determined they have suffered apparent trauma and has ruled the victims’ deaths as homicides. We have identified at least one person involved.

Aug. 16 – 470 and View High Drive, Victim:  Tasheika S. Baker, black female, age 41
Officers were dispatched about 10:29 p.m. to a shooting at I-470 and Raytown Road. They looked all over the area and eventually found the victim at I-470 and View High. Lee's Summit Fire/EMS were first at the scene and transported the victim to the hospital, where she was declared deceased. Detectives are working with federal partners on a possible lead but otherwise have little to go on.

Aug. 17 – 3339 Wabash, Victim:  Morris “Mack” Clay, black male, age 66
Officers were dispatched to 3339 Wabash at 4:41 p.m. They found the victim with an apparent gunshot wound on the front porch of a house. They attempted CPR while tactical officers cleared the house because witnesses said the suspect may be inside.  The victim died. The suspect was not inside, but he had driven away just after the shooting. Officers located him, and now Marshall Celestine has been charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. He is being held on a $100k cash-only bond. 

Aug. 19 – 435 and Eastwood, Victim:  Gabriel J. Edgar, black male, age 36
Officers were initially dispatched at 3:41 a.m. on a vehicle crash at 435 and Eastwood. When they got there, they found the victim shot to death in the northbound lanes of 435 at Eastwood Trafficway. A tow truck driver first discovered the victim. Detectives have identified a person of interest and are working with the Crime Lab on analysis to move the case forward.
Aug. 19 – 10th and Harrison, Victim:  Dante L. Wachteler, white male, age 25
Officers were dispatched at 4:41 a.m. on a sound of shots and found the victim in the street suffering from a gunshot wound. There were no witnesses at the scene, and police have few leads.  

Aug. 19 – 14th and White, Victim:  Curtis A. Presley, black male, age 21
The victim was with a man who was giving a ride to two other male suspects – a juvenile and an adult –to buy marijuana. The suspects asked the victims to pull over at 14th and White, and when they did, the suspects attempted to rob the victims of their car, money and cell phone. The deceased victim refused to turn over his phone and was subsequently shot by the juvenile suspect. The juvenile has been charged in Family Court. Police have identified the adult suspect and are looking for him. 

Aug. 25 – 6816 Cleveland, Victim:  Raphael M. Butler-Grimmet, black male, age 17
An officer in the area heard shots at about 5:09 a.m. and saw a car fleeing the scene. Police pursued that vehicle to 7th and Rainbow in Kansas City, Kan. Other officers went to 68th and Cleveland, where they found the victim dead from apparent gunshot wounds. There were several witnesses at the scene. Police learned the shooting stemmed from an argument among people who knew each other. The driver of the vehicle that left the scene has been charged with felony eluding.  The shooter has been identified and remains at large. Officers are actively searching for the suspect

Aug. 29 – 7041 Askew, Victim: Christopher M. Cropp, white male, age 36
Officers responding on a reported shooting at 12:59 p.m. found the victim in the front yard of the house with a gunshot wound. Investigation revealed that someone known to the suspect came to retrieve property and brought the suspect with them. The unarmed victim was standing outside the suspect’s vehicle when they got into an altercation, and the suspect shot him from inside the vehicle. The suspect, David W. Worlledge, has been charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Aug. 30 – 4029 Park, Victim: Joseph H. Honea, white male, age 43
The Shotspotter gunshot detection system alerted officers to shots fired in the vacant lot at 4029 Park at 4:29 a.m. They found the victim deceased from multiple gunshot wounds. Detectives have some information about the victim’s activities prior to his death, but they need more leads.

Again, you can come forward with information while remaining anonymous and earning a $10,000 reward by calling TIPS. More and more people are doing so. Because the good news is that overall violent crime – including homicides – is down year-to-date. You can see the homicide numbers updated daily on our web site. And so far, non-deadly shootings through Sept. 2 are down nearly 13 percent compared to the same time last year. This shows that our community is standing up and opposing the culture of violence in Kansas City.   

Coming up on October 6, each of our six patrol divisions will host a Citizens United Against Crime event (see the flier below) at various locations throughout the city. We hope this fun event will continue to enhance our collaboration with residents by building relationships and providing education in crime prevention.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Thank you for your support in wake of officers' shooting

Three of our officers were shot yesterday while trying to apprehend the man that we have identified as the suspect in the murder of a UMKC student from India - Sharath Koppu - on July 6. Fortunately, all three officers’ injuries were not life threatening. The suspect was killed in a gun battle with police. You can see pictures of one of the officer's vehicles above.

But I think the bigger story is what happened before, outside of and after yesterday’s incident. The people of Kansas City really came together to help us solve this senseless slaying of an innocent man. After we released video of the suspect, we got more than 40 tips from community members. About ten of those all identified the same person. I think this is proof both that the people of Kansas City will not tolerate that kind of violence and that the increased $10,000 reward for information in homicides is paying off.

Obviously, our very brave and courageous officers deserve a great deal of credit and praise for what happened yesterday. Without being called, they responded from all over the city, on-duty and off. Some of them just put on their uniforms and showed up to help in any way they could.

On behalf of the KCPD, I’d like to thank the agencies who assisted us at multiple shooting scenes yesterday, including the Kansas City Missouri Fire Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshals, FBI and ATF. Taking It to the Streets and the Salvation Army provided food, drink and a place to cool off and use the restroom for the officers, detectives and crime scene staff who were out working these incidents. We’d also like to thank the amazing hospital staff members who have cared for our officers so diligently and cheerfully accommodated all of their visitors.

As those officers recover in the hospital, they are taking in the massive amount of support that has flowed their way, and it is lifting their spirits. Members of the Board of Police Commissioners and Mayor Sly James came to visit them. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called to offer his support and acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice required in police work. Other elected officials have reached out, as well. I’ve lost track of how many of our fellow police agencies around the metro area and across the country have reached out with their support and prayers. Members of the media have offered their well-wishes.

Most importantly, our community has rallied around these officers and our department. We were frankly a little taken aback by all the notes of thanks and support that have come in on social media, e-mail and by phone. That support means the world not only to the officers who are recovering, but to everyone on this department. Because this job is not easy, and in recent years, it’s only gotten harder as tension has erupted between law enforcement and the people they serve across the country. Our job is to protect and serve every single person who lives, works or visits Kansas City, Mo., with professionalism and integrity, and we take that duty extremely seriously. For officers to go out there and know that their work is appreciated means more than a paycheck ever could. I just can’t say “thank you” enough to the people of our city who are partnering with us to make it safer.

Some of those people were in the neighborhoods yesterday where these incidents occurred. We interrupted a church service and had people shelter in place in their houses. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to bring this incident to the safest conclusion possible.

We hope everyone’s support continues beyond these next few days. The terror of what happened will not stop for these officers after they leave the hospital. They are husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, and their families have undergone trauma, as well. We deployed a chaplain to the hospital and to each of our urban core police stations to pray with and encourage not only the injured officers but especially our newer officers who are understandably shaken. Our Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99 also hosted a chaplain and activated our peer support network. The KCPD CARE Team assisted with practical matters for the injured officers’ families. Everyone involved in this situation will remember what took place for the rest of their career, and their lives, for that matter. They will also remember the outpouring of support received from this community. Thank you to all. 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Traffic tickets, race and the facts

The Kansas City Star recently published an article and editorial about the racial breakdown in traffic tickets in Kansas City, Mo. First and foremost, I want to be clear that we welcome public scrutiny. We want to hear from the people we serve about what they think we’re doing well and what we can improve upon. We’re also constantly analyzing data to see where we need improvement, additional training and/or amendments to our policies and procedures.

Numerically, whites received more traffic tickets in 2017 in Kansas City, Mo. But proportional to their population, yes, 
African-Americans received more tickets. That’s something we continually evaluate and use that analysis to deploy our resources. This disparity is not just an issue with Kansas City but with police departments around the country.

In their story, The Star sorted their ticket data by the zip code of where the person receiving the ticket lives, not where the tickets were issued. The zip code of where the ticket is issued is not recorded on most police citations – just the address – so they can’t be sorted that way. (So we could issue a ticket to someone by KCI who lives in the 64130 zip code, but we wouldn’t know that at the time of the stop.) We’re not sure of the methodology the Star reporters used to analyze the data in their Sunday article, but I would be happy to share our data on tickets issued by race in 2017. This was pulled from our e-ticketing system:

Total citations: 115,134

Tickets by race
African-American – 41,961
White – 43,801
American Indian or Alaskan Native – 66
Asian or Pacific Islander – 758
Unknown – 2,074

The remaining 26,474 tickets were parking tickets. When those are issued, we don’t know the race of the person receiving the ticket.

KCPD also captures data about whether officers knew the race of the driver prior to stopping a car. This is not required data, but we think it’s important. Our data shows that officers did not know the race of the driver they had stopped when they pulled the vehicle over 98.6 percent of the time. Think about it – an officer clocks a car speeding from a quarter-mile away – he or she has no chance to see the driver.

Even so, we would expect higher ticket numbers to be issued in the areas of the urban core most impacted by violent crime in 2017. Interim Chief David Zimmerman deployed Traffic Enforcement crews to several zones along the Prospect Avenue Corridor to combat spiking violent crime, homicides and traffic fatalities. We experienced 99 traffic fatalities in 2017, the most since 1980. Interim Chief Zimmerman explained this in a blog at the time we started the initiative. The zones were determined by a well-known intelligence-led policing strategy called DDACTS – Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety. Those zones were in the zip codes cited in the Star’s article as having the highest numbers of residents receiving tickets. We would expect them to because we increased police presence there to combat violent crime and make it safer for residents. More officers in the area led to more officers to see traffic violations. (Traffic fatalities are at 25 year-to-date, compared to 34 at this time last year.)

It’s something of a Catch-22. With violent crime spiking, police were accused of not doing enough. Then we deployed extra resources to areas experiencing the most violence, and now we’re accused of “over-policing,” as you’ll see in inquiries from the Star reporter below.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Municipal Court data cited in the Star's article is not the same as stop data. We rely on the stop data we compile for the Missouri Attorney General to help us identify any potential bias and to address it in our training. That actually shows us how many drivers of every race we pull over. Our 2017 stop data will post on the Attorney General’s web site no later than June 1. Feel free to check out our 2016 data. Our disparity index for African-Americans is lower than the rest of the state. We continually review this rate against other departments and against our own department over prior years.

Despite the Star article’s focus on the fines and warrants that arise from Municipal Court, there was no description of Municipal/Traffic Court procedures, no statement from a judge, and no comment from a neutral attorney or public defender. There was no mention of the Court’s warrant amnesty days, payment plans, or diversion opportunities. Much can be resolved simply by residents showing up to court. I highly encourage anyone struggling with traffic fines and warrants to contact the court to see how the issues can be resolved.

Finally, I’d like to address how this article played out from our end, and why the Star’s statement that we provided no comment is false.

The Star first contacted Media Unit commander and public information officer Captain Lionel Colón by e-mail at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. The reporter stated they’d gotten statistics (they did not say from where), and then asked these questions:

“1. Why are African Americans being assigned tickets at such a disproportionate rate?
2. Why does the 64130 zip code account for such a disproportionate amount of tickets?
3. Some have interpreted this data as demonstrating a pattern of ‘over-policing’ and targeting of AA motorists by the KCPD. What is the department's response to that?”

Captain Colón responded early the next morning asking what the data were so we could review it in order to properly answer their questions. The Star declined to provide the data, other than directing us to public information from Municipal Court. They refused to say with whom they worked at Municipal Court to obtain the data or what kind of dataset they’d requested. Captain Colón said it would be irresponsible for him to speak to the data without seeing it.

Over the next few days, we worked to try to extract our own ticket data from 2017 by race and set up an appointment with leaders at Municipal Court to compare. Captain Colón maintained daily e-mail contact with the Star during that time.

On Friday, May 18, we told the reporter that since we could not see the data the Star used to make responsible and informed comments, we were working to pull the data ourselves. We told him there were several other large-scale public information requests that had been submitted previously from other organizations that – to be fair to everyone – needed to be addressed first. The reporter responded that it was too late, anyway, and the article would run on Sunday. The Star then reported that KCPD declined to comment, which is false. We requested the Star correct their statement, “Police did not respond to the Star’s request for comments to this article,” and they declined. Daily e-mail conversation between KCPD and reporters and editors is not a “no comment” situation. “No comment” is not a response that we give. Sometimes we have to protect the integrity of an investigation and can’t say much, and other times – as is the case here – we need more time to review a large amount of information (that wasn’t even made available to us for review). Just to pull that information ourselves took more time than the Star allotted us for making a statement on it.

In summary, the Star reporters gave the police department 2.5 days to respond to reams of data they wouldn’t show us. Members of the Star have had the opportunity to review this data since February 2018, according to Municipal Court.

Again, we welcome scrutiny. We are accountable to the people of Kansas City. Some examples of how we hold ourselves accountable are the racial stop data we provide to the Missouri Attorney General and the monthly reports on crime and police activity we deliver publicly to the Board of Police Commissioners. We are obliged to provide fair police service to everyone, and we strive to do that every day. We also have an obligation and responsibility to address crime and provide public safety, which includes enforcement. So we welcome scrutiny, but the KCPD and the people of Kansas City deserve to have an authentic and informed discussion on this topic. 

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

With your help, we've enhanced our response to threats against schools

Since my previous blog on mass shooting threats, I wanted to update you on what’s been happening regarding this in Kansas City. After the horrific shootings at the high school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, school threats came pouring in across the metro. As far as we can tell, there have been 21 verifiable incidents involving threats of mass violence since Feb. 14 in Kansas City, Mo. Twenty of the 21 were directed at schools. We immediately investigated and followed up on every one of them and have implemented new practices to ensure these types of threats don’t slip through the cracks. We would not have been able to do any of it without the community’s vigilance and reporting.

We started a new notification system to ensure the right people on the department can start tracking down suspects as quickly as possible. And because they were so numerous, we even created a new report category in our records management system in April for these types of terroristic threats to increase our ability to track case progress and accurately reflect the number of incidents we’ve encountered.

Let me share an example of how we handled one of these incidents. Someone at one of our high schools notified police of a possible threat of violence they’d learned about the previous day. The person had heard students were going to bring a gun after school to confront other students on April 12. Police quickly converged on the school just before dismissal. One of the officers spotted the two juveniles who purportedly made the threat walking purposefully toward the front of the school with what appeared to be firearms. Four officers moved in and stopped the two teenagers. They recovered a loaded gun from each of them and took them into custody, stopping who knows what kinds of violence.

Most of the people who have made these threats are juveniles. The majority of their families that we’ve encountered have been very supportive and helpful in KCPD’s efforts to intervene and prevent school violence. Although many of these juveniles have been taken into custody and charged with making terroristic threats, KCPD is doing more than just enforcement-based response. Our social workers and Crisis Intervention Team officers are working with them and their families to ensure they’re receiving the help they need. Some have struggled with mental illness, and we’ve worked to connect them to treatment.

As I said in my post after the Parkland shooting, the protection of children is one of our top priorities. But we must be aware of threats of violence everywhere, from a country music concert to a Waffle House. Our prevention, notification, investigation and enforcement activities remain the same for all potential threats of mass violence. But we need your help. If you hear or see any threats of violence against one person or a whole building full of people, please call 911 immediately. (Please do not notify us via social media. That’s not monitored 24/7, nor can we dispatch from there.) We’re ready to respond. From our perspective, this successful police-community partnership already has prevented violence at schools in Kansas City.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

KCPD doubles officers dedicated to working with neighborhoods

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department now has twice as many police officers dedicated to working directly with neighborhoods. As promised, two Community Interaction Officers now are assigned to each of our six patrol divisions. The second set started March 26. That makes for a dozen officers who are dedicated to working proactively to empower neighborhoods, resolve ongoing issues and prevent crime.

Historically, Community Interaction Officers (CIOs) at KCPD have helped facilitate communication between the Police Department and the residents of Kansas City. They encourage residents to be actively involved in anti-crime efforts and promote community support for the police department through positive interaction and partnerships with the community. CIOs meet with members of the community on a regular basis to address specific community problems and plausible solutions.

But what about neighborhoods and residents who don’t engage with police or each other? One thing we know for sure is that strong neighborhoods – those that are well organized and whose residents are engaged and look out for each other – have less crime. So all 12 CIOs have been tasked with engaging and empowering neighborhoods that lack organization and involvement. We are partnering with the UMKC Center for Neighborhoods to help identify community leaders, implement crime prevention strategies and empower residents to improve their quality of life.

The new set of Community Interaction Officers are assigned to work from 1 to 9 p.m. This allows them to engage with people who may not have been involved before because they work during the day. The new CIOs’ shifts overlap with the existing CIOs so they can coordinate, but they’re expanded into the evening to increase the opportunity for residents to work with us. The new, second-shift CIOs were chosen by patrol division leaders based on their experience and desire to build community relationships and help solve neighborhood problems. They’re being implemented now because we have a class of Academy graduates who are now off their probationary period. I did not want to pull existing officers off the streets. The CIOs all will be trained in the proven crime prevention strategy of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). They will be ready to help residents and businesses create an environment that deters criminal activity.

This approach has seen success elsewhere. The New York City Police Department implemented two Neighborhood Coordination Officers (very similar to our CIOs) in about 20 of their precincts in 2015. They’ve continued to expand it city-wide. In 2017, New York City’s overall crime rate was at its lowest level since 1951, and its 2017 homicides were the lowest in 70 years. We would love to see similar results in Kansas City.

But the police are only part of the solution. The resident engagement piece is huge, and we cannot reduce crime and improve quality of life without it. If we were all neighborly, looked out for each other and reported crime, we’d have a much safer city.

We don’t want your only contact with police to be during a crisis. We want to work with everyone proactively to prevent issues from escalating to that point. Below are the names of the Community Interaction Officers assigned to each patrol division, along with the division phone numbers, so you can call and ask for them. Those listed second are the newly assigned, second-shift CIOs. They all look forward to working with you!

Central Patrol Division: 816-234-5510
Officer Andy Hamil
Officer Holly Sticken

East Patrol Division: 816-234-5530
Master Police Officer Greg Smith
Officer Patrick Byrd

Metro Patrol Division: 816-581-0700 

Officer Mikki Cassidy
Officer Richard Marquez

North Patrol Division: 816-437-6200
Officer John Lozano
Officer Robert Pavlovic

Shoal Creek Patrol Division: 816-413-3440
Officer Bill Keeney
Officer Richard Jones

South Patrol Division: 816-234-5550
Officer Mary McCall
Officer Aaron Whitehead

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

City and KCPD work toward master plan for downtown parking

The good news: Downtown Kansas City is growing and thriving. More and more people are choosing to live, work and play in our city center. This has led to an influx of residential units, businesses, entertainment options and more. But as more people come downtown, most bring their cars with them. More people equal more cars, and we’re working with City government to accommodate increased parking needs.

We’ve heard from several downtown business owners recently that their customers can’t park at their businesses because downtown residents have overstayed their time in parking spots. We’ve heard from downtown residents that people attending special events have taken up their parking spots. And we’ve heard from people attending downtown events that they can’t find a place to park. We’re working with the City on a master plan for downtown parking. One of the recommendations is the hiring of 10 additional KCPD parking control officers to increase enforcement.

At present, we have just four parking control officers and two supervisors for the entire city. They have worked their tails off to keep up with complaints, special events and more, but there just weren’t enough of them to keep up with growing downtown parking needs. These 10 new parking control officers will concentrate on downtown, only. We still are hiring for these positions, and we encourage Kansas City residents interested in serving their city in this capacity to apply.

To keep parking spaces turning over for everyone who needs them downtown, we will be stepping enforcement up considerably with the help of the new parking control officers. We’re not going to start handing out thousands more parking tickets overnight, though. We’ll begin a period of public education this month, which will include issuing a lot of warnings in lieu of tickets. This will allow people to develop a downtown parking plan that will be fair to everyone and allow businesses to be successful.

One notable change: effective March 1, off-street public parking lots in the City Market turned into paid lots at a rate of $1 an hour. The City Market Square lot will continue to be free and available for short-term parking, but the time limit has been reduced from three hours to two hours.

The renewed vibrancy of our downtown is exciting, but it comes with some growing pains. We look forward to working with everyone to make parking accessible to as many people as possible in the heart of KC.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

With your help, we can work to prevent mass shootings

On Valentine’s Day, the terror we all dread returned to an unsuspecting school. In a matter of minutes lives were lost, others were shattered, and the hearts of people throughout the nation broke for people in both categories. Everyone hopes and prays that such a tragedy will never happen, especially not to children. KCPD, just like any other law enforcement agency in this country, would like to be able to guarantee the safety of all school children. Unfortunately, that’s a guarantee we can’t make.

Just this past week, Kansas City Missouri Police have investigated two school shooting threats. Both times, we tracked down the originators of the threats and interviewed them. Because of the unfortunate choices they made, the juveniles who made these threats may face consequences. 

Like this past week, there have been many times that KCPD has received information about a possible mass-shooting threat. This usually comes in the form of a call to our department or a call for service to a location where someone is concerned about the mental state of another person. Many times, officers check into the concern and find it doesn’t pose a danger. No one has made a threat or taken any actions or made any plans to harm to others. But if there is more information, such as photos, social media posts, text messages or something else that adds to the concern, our patrol officers then contact detectives to conduct more research and investigation in an attempt to determine the level of threat. Once law enforcement personnel feel - and yes, sometimes it comes down to good police instinct - that there is a possible danger, many different police elements may get involved. Our Law Enforcement Resource Center, Crisis Intervention Team officers, and detectives from different units all will work together to investigate. This will include interviewing friends and family of the concerned person as well as making contact with that individual to determine their state of mind and capabilities. 

Even though it is impossible to prove a mass shooting didn’t happen, I do know that KCPD has come across individuals who were in a bad state and were capable of carrying out an attack. Many thanks go out to the family members, friends and even co-workers who have stepped up and reported the concerns they have had. Just one call or comment to an officer or detective can make all the difference. It can stop mass shootings and save lives. Without that partnership, KCPD will not be effective - not just in preventing mass-casualty events but in pretty much every other facet of public safety.

The day before the Parkland shooting, the FBI issued a report about the marked increase of mass shooting incidents in the United States in the last five years. Preliminarily, the totals for 2017 are higher than each of the previous five years. Last year, the report states, there were 29 active shooter incidents in 15 states, which was an increase from 20 incidents in each of the previous years since 2014.

No one wants to think about a mass shooting occur here, in Kansas City. As I have previously mentioned, KCPD members not only must think about such an occurrence; we have to train for it. Every officer on our department is well trained and conducts practical exercises for such a horrible event. KCPD also has conducted joint training exercises with the fire department to be in the best position to save lives if a mass shooting incident were to occur.

After the Parkland shooting, our Tactical Response Team officers reached out to every school district in Kansas City, Mo., to see if any schools and their staffs wanted to undergo the free active shooter training our department offers. (Many already have done so in prior years.) If you work for a charter or parochial school that is not part of a district, contact our Tactical Enforcement Division Office at 816-413-3597 if you would like such training at your school. The training is available for other organizations, as well. Call to inquire.

With the right partnerships, anything is possible, including the prevention of a mass shooting. I encourage anyone who is legitimately concerned about an individual to not set your feelings aside without contacting KCPD or another law enforcement agency. Together we can keep each other and our children safe.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Social workers coming to all patrol divisions

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has secured funding to embed a social worker at all six of our patrol division stations.

The Hall Family Foundation is providing $640,000, and the City of Kansas City is matching that with $470,000 to fund six social workers and a program coordinator for the next three years. The social workers’ primary function is to provide support and act as a resource for officers through community outreach, support and service referrals.

As I said in an earlier post, we are willing to forge nontraditional partnerships that work to decrease crime in our city. People who don’t have their basic needs met will always look for alternative means. The KCPD is striving to assist with those alternative means, as opposed to criminal means.

A board member of the Police Foundation of Kansas City had a connection to a board member of the Hall Family Foundation. Through that, our current social worker, Gina English, and I were able to present the police department’s proposal. We are so glad the Hall Family Foundation chose to fund this project and that the City realized its worth and is providing matching funding. I truly believe this will have a significant impact on crime in our community, and I’m excited to see what this public-private partnership can accomplish.

We aim to have the social workers in place by early March. They will work out of patrol division stations, attend weekly crime meetings and communicate regularly with officers about residents in need of assistance, especially early intervention for at-risk youth.

The goals of the social worker program are to:
  1. Cultivate a shared mission for service providers to work together, decreasing gaps in services and strengthening each other’s ability to influence people who need help and act as a safeguard in times of crisis.
  2. Provide prevention support for youth identified as mid-level risk due to past police contact, criminal activity or escalation in crime type.
  3. Increase the public’s overall satisfaction with police by offering another level of customer service and problem-solving actions to the Police Department. 
As I’ve said, there are a lot of people dealing with issues in Kansas City that are frankly not the job of police to address: family problems, poverty, addiction and more. But those very issues are what create crime problems in our community. Social workers can address such issues in a way that brings lasting, positive change. For example, Gina English, the social worker who pioneered our program at Central Patrol Division, did more to stop the problem of youth congregating on the Country Club Plaza and becoming destructive and violent than police ever could. She really talked to the teens there and then created a diversion and citizenship program for them.

Gina will serve as the coordinator for the expanded program. The new social workers will be expected to continue her work with juveniles in detention and in Municipal Court as well as building a diverse network of community resources. They also always must maintain KCPD’s duty to protect and serve the entire community, placing public safety above all.

A job description for these contract positions will be posted soon. In the meantime, interested persons with a degree in social work can e-mail

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our 2018 goals: decrease violent crime, increase community involvement

Last week, Mayor James and I released a blog that focused on what is occurring to reduce crime in Kansas City. This week, I would like to expand on what resources and initiatives KCPD is exploring to increase community involvement while focusing on violent crime.

At the conclusion of 2017, many media outlets were asking local officials, including the police department, about the upward trend in violent crime, specifically homicides. One hundred and fifty homicides were disheartening for officials and citizens alike. Many times I struggle with the release of numbers knowing that each number represents a person, a family and friends who have all suffered a great loss. Their loss can never be adequately articulated, but doing so by just a number seems even more callous. Yet as a society, this is the matrix by which we measure crime: raw numbers or percentages.

I am optimistic as Kansas City starts 2018. Slowly this city is starting to realize that the crime in Kansas City needs to be addressed from several different angles, not just through the police and enforcement. Some of the partnerships that have great potential in 2018: 
  • The Police Foundation of Kansas City, a private/public partnership that is bringing cutting-edge technology to this city to help reduce violent crime. 
  • Soon there will be social workers at every patrol division. This will be another private/public partnership aimed at increasing the ability of field officers to follow through on issues they find while working in the field. 
  • The TIPS Hotline, part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, recently raised the reward money for information on homicides from $2,000 to $5,000. 
All of these partnerships are working to reduce violent crime, however, KCPD has not stopped looking at other avenues. We are currently researching how the department can better connect with our city’s youth. Our city’s future successes or failures depend on them. Planning is occurring for a summer camp, and several other youth based initiatives are also being explored. You can read more detail about what we’re planning in the previous post.

As I mentioned above, we cannot enforce our way out of crime. But I want to send a clear message to those who decide to commit acts of violence in Kansas City that KCPD and our criminal justice partners are working harder and smarter to make sure you are identified, arrested and handed off to the courts. KCPD has always focused efforts on those who we know commit crime. In 2018, we will continue to do so with our partners, but we will be doing so with a new sense of urgency. The uptick in homicides has led to more suspects being identified. Since December 1, KCPD has arrested 18 homicide suspects. I believe the increased sharing of criminal intelligence information, with a new sense of urgency, has led to this increase in homicide arrests. The TIPS Hotline has also paid its first $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in a homicide.

The year 2018 will also bring an opportunity to increase the relationship between neighborhoods and KCPD. KCPD soon will expand the number of Community Interaction Officers. This closely follows the model that the New York City Police Department has used to help neighborhoods become strong and vibrant instead of lacking in leadership and structure. In part because of these neighborhood-focused efforts, New York City has been experiencing an unprecedented drop in violent crime. Our Community Interaction Officers will look to strengthen not only relationships but the bond between neighborhoods and the police department. This will help to create the level of trust that is needed to form a true partnership.

Twelve short months from now will let us know if the aforementioned direction, cooperation, initiatives, and enforcement activities have reduced crime. The executive staff at KCPD will continue to evaluate, research and implement strategies that work on reducing violent crime so Kansas City is no longer on the ten most-violent cities list. That is just the first big hurdle toward the goal of making Kansas City the safest city in America.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It takes a community

Co-authored by Mayor Sly James and Chief Smith

If you’re like both of us, you look at Kansas City’s crime statistics and wince. Maybe you get angry. Maybe you want someone or something to blame. We get it. We do, too.

But crime is complex. Criminal behavior usually isn’t driven by just one thing, and we won’t be able to bring down crime in our city with quick fixes. We believe 2018 can be the year that our neighborhoods see true relief from violence, but it will take more than anything the police or the city government alone can provide. It will take you. We need each Kansas Citian to prioritize crime reduction in our community. There is no substitute for an engaged citizenry when it comes to fighting crime.

The men and women of law enforcement rely on tips and information from members of our community to help solve crimes. If you see something, hear something or know something, do something. Both of us are powerless to help make our neighborhoods safer without your help. To that end, KCPD recently increased the TIPS hotline reward to $5,000.

While police and city government can’t fix the crime problem alone, we are doing a great deal to address it. The Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) has been working hard to stop the recent spate of homicides. In fact, the percentage of homicides resulting from group-related violence – KC NoVA’s focus – has dropped steadily since the group started in 2013. However, overall homicide numbers are still going up, and we’re trying a number of things to stop that.

KC NoVA is bringing all of our city’s key players to the table to address the very small percentage of people who are responsible for a lot of the violence in Kansas City. Every morning, representatives from a host of agencies meet in person and by conference call to talk about what crime happened in the last 24 hours and any intelligence that was developed. The meeting is led by KCPD’s Gang Intelligence Unit and includes a variety of internal units at the KCPD as well as our local, state and federal partners. These heavy hitters work together every day to identify the most dangerous people in our community and how we can best arrest and prosecute them.

We also work to rehabilitate those who want to leave a life of crime. NoVA client advocates presently work with more than 100 people who want to avoid criminal behavior and be productive members of society. Advocates provide everything from conflict resolution skills to substance abuse treatment to job training. NoVA partners also have made nearly 100 visits to individuals who were incarcerated as the result of NoVA enforcement and worked with them to prepare for a law-abiding life on the outside. It’s still early, but their rate of recidivism appears to be significantly lower than average.

The Ruskin area in south Kansas City had recently experienced an elevated level of violent crime and quality of life issues. NoVA partners knocked on 697 homes in the Ruskin Heights neighborhood this past year to inform hundreds of families that police presence would be increasing, violence would not be tolerated and resources were available to help families get their loved ones back on the straight and narrow. The Violent Crimes Enforcement Division along with our NoVA partners is working with community members to identify specific neighborhood problems and concerns. We have already observed a reduction in the criminal activity occurring. Each year, we examined the date range of August through December. We found that crime categories, including aggravated assault, domestic violence, armed robbery, and strong-arm robbery, collectively increased from 2014 through 2016. Crime rose 56 percent between 2014 and 2015 and another 11 percent between 2015 and 2016. However, data show a 10 percent decrease for the same date range in 2017 when compared to 2016. Police will continue to work with City Codes Enforcement Officers to address blighted homes. The goal is to improve the neighborhood, reduce criminal activity and restore resident satisfaction. We intend to replicate this geographical targeted policing into other areas of the city.

Teens in Transition is another program of KC NoVA. Funded by the offices of the Mayor and Jackson County Prosecutor, this program has brought 40 teens at risk for violence together each of the past three summers. Led by Michael Toombs of Arts Tech, they learn conflict resolution skills, undergo job training and art therapy. The whole time, KCPD’s school resource officers work alongside the teens to build relationships and trust. The kids who graduate from the program have significantly fewer negative contacts with police than they did before they started.

You’ll notice many of these crime-fighting efforts are less about going out and arresting people and more about giving them the resources they need to prevent them from turning to crime. One way KCPD is doing that is through a social worker embedded at Central Patrol Division. Here’s one great example: For years, officers have tried to enforce away issues with teens congregating on the Country Club Plaza in the summer and violating laws. This past summer, the social worker, Gina English, went to the Plaza and surveyed the kids about why they were there. After some citations for curfew violation the initial weekend the summer curfew went into effect, the problems on the Plaza decreased that summer. Gina identified the issues that drove idle youth to congregating and breaking laws, and those underlying issues were addressed by her social work and the responsible citizenship classes Gina taught to the children and parents who’d been cited for curfew violations. It was more effective than anything police had done to address the problem. To read more about what social work is accomplishing in Central Patrol Division, check out Chief Smith’s blog from last week. Like the client advocates at KC NoVA, social work is proving to be an innovative solution to public safety problems.

We’re about to see even more of this happen in Kansas City. The Police Department has just secured funding to embed a social worker at all six patrol division stations. More information on that will be forthcoming.

The way the police department shares and acts on crime information also has changed in a way that increases accountability. A sergeant skilled at data and intelligence analysis provides both the patrol divisions and Chief Smith with detailed weekly crime data and maps, pointing out patterns, recent parolees and concerning issues that need follow-up. Every week, officers and commanders assigned to each of the city’s six patrol divisions meet to discuss crime issues and neighborhood concerns in their area. Then every Wednesday, the commanders report how they’re working within their divisions to address those issues. They also discuss how they can partner with other internal divisions like Violent Crimes, Violent Crimes Enforcement, Special Operations, Traffic and Homeland Security and bring to bear the resources of those specialized units to stop the crime.

We understand the need for our law enforcement community to look like, and to understand, the people who live in our neighborhoods. We’re both committed to increasing the diversity of our police force. There is a KCPD recruitment fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Rd. Department recruiters will be on site taking information from people interested in serving with KCPD and answering questions about employment. We’d love for community members from a wide variety of backgrounds to come apply.

Striving for a diverse workforce is nothing new for KCPD, and it’s something we are always trying to enhance. In 2017, KCPD was out recruiting everywhere from urban core high schools and churches to the Bosnian Community Picnic to LGBT festivals to universities and military bases. Among a host of other diversity recruitment initiatives, KCPD has been working with Kansas City Public Schools to build a program for interested students to learn about law enforcement with the goal of having them eventually join the department. In the coming months, KCPD will be operating a career center at the Manual Career and Technical Center in downtown. The purpose is to develop and mentor young people so those students looking for jobs after they graduate from high school can pass the background examination and go into civilian positions on the KCPD (such as desk clerks, building maintenance and other spots) until they reach the age of 21 and can become police officers. KCPD also is implementing a summer youth police academy for 12- to 15-year-olds in partnership with the Parks Department. The goal is for urban core youth to have a continuum of exposure to and mentoring by police from middle school to graduation. Those young people grew up in and understand the neighborhoods that are most in need of police presence, and we need them in the department.

That’s just some of what we’re doing in terms of internal changes in working with our community and law enforcement partners to address crime in 2018. We have the bold goal of getting Kansas City off the 10 Most Dangerous Cities list and look forward to what contributions our residents can make in helping us achieve that.

We believe all Kansas Citians deserve to live in a safe and healthy environment. It takes a community to make it possible. When we work together as a community, we have the capacity to solve our city’s most complex issues. Let’s come together now.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The impact of a social worker partnering with police

There are a lot of people dealing with issues in Kansas City that are frankly not the job of police to address: family problems, poverty, addiction and more. But it is those very issues that create crime problems in our community.

That’s why KCPD took a leadership role in embedding a social worker in one of our inner-city patrol divisions. It’s a unique partnership, and it’s changing people’s lives in a way that enhances public safety. She started in December 2016, and after a year on the job, the impact social worker Gina English is making continues to amaze me.

Lately, she’s taken it upon herself to volunteer and mentor youth incarcerated at the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC). She’s been working to let the young inmates there know that there is support available for them when they get out to do something different with their lives. Since she is working on behalf of KCPD, she’s also planting the seeds of positive relationships between these young people and law enforcement.

Gina was out shopping last week when she ran into one of the young men she’d spoken with at the JJC. He had been released and was working at a retail store. After speaking with him, Gina learned it was one of two jobs he had. He also no longer was attending an alternative school because he’d caught up on all of his work. Now in a regular high school, he’s making all A’s and B’s. This was a young man who had violated the law and was incarcerated, but now he is well on his way to being a productive member of society. After she spoke with him, Gina talked to his manager at the store. She told the manager that the teen was committed to his future, and that she’d made a great decision to take a chance on hiring him.

When a family came into the Central Patrol station this week to inquire about a driver’s license issue, Gina saw their 6-year-old boy didn’t have a coat. Although the family’s problem probably would best have been addressed at the Department of Motor Vehicles, one of our officers called down to Jefferson City to help make inquiries for them. While he was doing so (Gina had directed him to stall the family a bit), Gina ran out and obtained a coat for the boy. They left the station with their questions answered and a new coat, and the whole family had a new appreciation and trust for police.

Gina also got three people into substance treatment last week. As always, she is humble. She told me, “I just take advantage of what’s already available in the community and make connections for them. And how great is it that this help is coming from the place of law enforcement?”

That is just some of what one person did in one week in one area of the city (Central Patrol Division). Imagine what more social workers embedded with law enforcement across the city could do. We are working on funding that vision at each patrol division to create even stronger partnerships between social workers, police department members – especially community interaction officers - and our community. We are willing to forge nontraditional partnerships that work to decrease crime in our city. People who don’t have their basic needs met will always look for alternative means. The KCPD is striving to assist with those alternative means, as opposed to criminal means.

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