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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