- The Crime Gun Intelligence Center launched last fall. It’s a partnership with the ATF to forensically link guns to crimes to suspects. We have acquired new technology and staff at our Crime Lab to assist with this effort, thanks to grant funding.
- Risk Terrain Modeling looks at environmental factors that can lead to violent crime (e.g. liquor stores, bus stops, vacant buildings) so police and the city can proactively address any issues to make the environment less desirable to criminals.
- We have worked with our partners and the U.S. Department of Justice to refocus the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) to individuals instead of groups. This will put the emphasis on prolific violent offenders and has been successful in other major cities.
- On June 21, the reward money available for anonymous information leading to the arrest of a Kansas City, Missouri, homicide suspect through Greater Kansas City Stoppers went up to $25,000. Two tipsters have now earned that reward. The first person got paid Aug. 7.
- We do extensive work with youth on conflict resolution and mentorship through initiatives like Youth Police Academy, Teens in Transition, Youth Police Initiative, Police Athletic League, School Resource Officers trained in conflict resolution, and the upcoming revamp of the Police Explorers program.
- We have implemented social service workers at every patrol division station to address needs that residents might otherwise try to meet through criminal activity.
First, consider this 2018 list from USA Today of the 25 most dangerous cities in the U.S., based on violent crime data law enforcement agencies submit to the FBI. Springfield, Mo., is ranked No. 12; Kansas City, Mo., is ranked No. 5; and St. Louis, Mo., is ranked No. 1. Out of all 50 states, Missouri has three cities ranked in the top 12. What does that say about the policies of our state?
If you want to hunt an animal in Missouri, you must attend a hunter’s safety education course and obtain a license. All of that is required to use a gun around wild animals, but recent state legislation has removed any requirements on carrying or using a gun around people. Now anyone 19 or older can legally carry a concealed weapon with no training in Missouri. Doesn’t it make sense for those who want to carry guns around people to do so with proper training?
The common refrain that usually accompanies calls for any kind of gun regulation is, “They want to take our guns away.” The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has no interest whatsoever in taking guns away that are legally possessed by residents. The law that applies to carrying a firearm for hunting – training and permitting requirements – is the same kind of law that should be used for possessing firearms, period. Law enforcement officers in Missouri currently have limited tools to prevent violence from occurring by taking guns out of the hands of those who want to harm others.
Since Jan. 1, 2008, a total of 1,346 people in Kansas City, Mo., have been murdered, the vast majority by firearms. That is a horrific loss of life in one decade. Imagine if we had a single incident with that many people killed at once in Kansas City. What would the reactions be? Would there be calls for some kind of immediate policy change so that could never happen again?
Public policy can provide law enforcement with more tools to combat violent crime, such as an effective corrections system, stricter laws, and grants/funding for more officers and equipment. Regardless of the gun laws, of which there are currently many, they are ineffective without a certainty of punishment. Certainty of punishment is more important than severity in the prevention of gun violence.
As I outlined at the beginning of this blog, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department are doing everything in our power to curb violent crime. But those in the halls of the legislature can affect public safety – for good or bad – at a much broader level. Something has to change. We hope the frustration our community is feeling about violent crime will turn into the action that is needed to change public policy to protect the people of Kansas City.
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