Friday, February 14, 2020

Lessons from a big celebration: beware of thieves


The day of the Chiefs victory parade was an amazing day, and we learned a lot from everything that happened that day. We’d like to pass along some of those lessons learned to you. The parade and rally showed us the need for folks attending large events to always be vigilant. Did you know 16 people reported that they got pick-pocketed during the event? Most of them were around the rally at Union Station.

One wallet, five cell phone-wallet combos and 10 other cell phones were stolen. Most of these items were taken from parade-goers’ back pant pockets or coat pockets. Many of the victims reported that they felt someone touch them, but it was crowded, and they didn’t see anyone stealing anything. The stolen phones are long gone. We’ve pinged some of them in Maryland, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

There also were 12 cars broken into during the time of the celebration – with eight of them in the area of 19th to 22nd Streets, Paseo to Holmes. That’s where several rally-goers parked.

Criminals are opportunists. They see a large gathering of distracted people as the perfect chance to make off with some valuable property. And while Kansas City might not host such a large-scale event until next year (fingers crossed!), we have still have several sizeable gatherings coming up soon such as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Kansas City loves to host events like this, but we need everyone attending to do their part to make them safe and successful. Make yourself and your property unappealing to thieves. Keep your phone and wallet on your person where you can see them. Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. Don’t leave your vehicle running unattended. Doing those things could prevent crimes not just at big events but would eliminate thousands of crimes in our city year-round.

The weather will soon be getting warmer, which means more and more people will be heading out to the fun gatherings and events that make Kansas City such a great place to live. You won’t be able to enjoy those outings, however, if you come home to stolen property, so take a minute before you go to ensure all your things are secure.

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Monday, February 3, 2020

We've got all hands on deck for the Chiefs victory parade!

Like everyone else in Kansas City, we are elated about the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory! We have been preparing for this possibility for quite a while and are ready to host what is likely to be the biggest celebration this city has seen since the Royals World Series win in 2015.

The victory parade is an all-hands-on-deck event for KCPD. Additionally, law enforcement agencies from around the metro area have dedicated some of their limited manpower (and womanpower!) to assist us that day. All of us at KCPD are very grateful for their assistance, and it shows what a truly cohesive metro area we have and how well we work together. This is a regional event, and it will be handled with regional resources. There will be hundreds upon hundreds of officers along the parade route and at the celebration at Union Station afterward to ensure everyone has a great time while staying safe. This will not detract from officers working the rest of the city. We are not taking away from our regular patrol division staffing allocation. Instead, we are bringing in everyone from investigative units to Academy recruits to help on the streets that day, as well as the aforementioned outside agencies.

Just as police will have to be flexible that day, so will those who will take part in the festivities. We are expecting hundreds of thousands of people to descend on a very limited area in downtown Kansas City. If you plan to attend, expect very heavy congestion, big traffic delays and huge crowds. Pack your patience. There is only so much police can do to move that many cars and people along. In a large crowd, items and people (especially children) are bound to get lost or separated. We will do everything we can to reunite people and return property to its rightful owners, but please help us by keeping a close eye on your children and keep your property secured.

Additionally, it’s February in Kansas City, so the forecast for the parade calls for cold temperatures. Please dress accordingly. As always, public alcohol consumption also is prohibited.

We can’t wait to celebrate this historic day with you, Kansas City. Thank you for your assistance, and thank you to the Kansas City Chiefs for making this momentous day possible in our community!

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Friday, January 31, 2020

We're ready to help you safely enjoy watching the Chiefs in the Super Bowl



We’re experiencing an incredible moment here in Kansas City, and your police department has been working hard to ensure everyone can have a great time watching the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

KCPD will be fully staffed citywide on Sunday evening, and we’re bringing in an additional 100 officers from units such as Tactical Enforcement and Traffic Enforcement. These additional officers will keep an eye on the city’s entertainment districts, but their assignment is to remain fluid and assist wherever needed.

Speaking of entertainment districts, all of them have shared their security plans with us, which include off-duty KCPD officers who will be assisting with security in those areas. Additional dispatch staff have been assigned specifically to handle calls related to game celebrations.

We’ve made extensive preparations to facilitate people having fun on this historic day for our city. Officers are ready for celebratory honking, yelling, high fives and more. We all have seen things go wrong in other cities that were supposed to be celebrating a championship, and no one wants that here, especially not celebratory gunfire. If you see something that looks like it’s starting to get out of control, please call us so it doesn’t grow into something really bad.

If the Chiefs win, more information about forthcoming celebrations will be posted early next week. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to helping everyone enjoy the game in the home of the Chiefs: Kansas City, Missouri.


Send comments to: kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org

Friday, January 17, 2020

We're making changes to address homicides and non-fatal shootings


While so much of our other crime is trending downward, shootings and homicides remain a persistent issue in our city. Although police are by no means solely responsible for the increase or decrease in these crimes, we are obligated to do everything in our power to address them and bring offenders to justice.

We also know we can’t work in a vacuum. It takes partnerships across the city and an evaluation of best practices nationwide to make the systemic changes needed to impact our stubborn violent crime rate. In 2019, Kansas City had 148 homicides and 491 non-fatal shootings.

A focus on prolific violent offenders

One of the places where you can see that change is happening is with the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA.  KC NoVA has been and continues to be about focused deterrence, but after extensive evaluation, KC NoVA switched its enforcement strategy last year from targeting group-related violence to targeting individuals who are frequently involved in violent, gun-related crimes. This approach has seen great success in cities like Tampa, which has had a dramatic reduction in violent crime. Although the number of these violent offenders is low, they are responsible for the vast amount of our violent crime. Research from Tampa identified that 6% of their violent offenders were responsible for 60% of violent crime.

As a reminder, KC NoVA is a partnership between KCPD, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, The Jackson County Prosecutor, FBI, ATF, the Mayor’s Office and Missouri Probation and Parole. All of those partners remain at the table with us, and they are integral in reducing the gun-related crimes that plague Kansas City. We work together now more than ever.

But homicides and non-fatal shootings continue to be an issue in Kansas City, so we needed to adapt. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Safety Partnership spent 18 months with us evaluating NoVA and advising us on how we could move forward. The result is this new enforcement strategy that targets the trigger-pullers.

Reviewing non-fatal shootings

The Public Safety Partnership also introduced us to a best practice from police in our peer city of Milwaukee. As of January 8, we are now conducting weekly shooting review meetings. These cover all homicides and non-fatal shootings that took place in the past week and follow up on case progress from previous weeks. Again, this is driven by partnerships with state and federal prosecutors and Missouri Probation and Parole. All of the partners attend the meetings with our investigative and patrol elements to ensure each case is investigated to the best of its ability.

This new meeting of criminal justice partners emphasizes accountability: each of the partners – including KCPD – is holding each other responsible for effectively carrying out their role in the criminal justice process. This is a great improvement in communication and accountability through the whole system.

Adding investigative resources

With the dawn of the New Year, we have doubled the number of detectives assigned to work non-fatal shooting cases. All too often, many of the victims and suspects in these incidents later become victims or suspects in homicides. With 491 non-fatal shootings last year (a 9% increase from 2018), we have doubled the number of detectives in our Assault Squads from 12 to 24. They are charged with investigating cases in which someone is assaulted with a weapon but survives. 

We also have added eight homicide detectives, bringing the total number to 32.

These shifts have led to us moving resources from other places, like Mounted Patrol. That decision wasn’t popular, but it is needed to focus resources on stopping the perpetrators of gun violence in our city.


Ultimately, police can’t be there every time someone decides to resolve an argument with a gun. If you know someone who is planning violence, please let us know. We are making changes, however, to identify those most involved with gun violence, work their case to the fullest extent and ensure accountability with the help of our partners in the criminal justice system and the community.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A look back at the good things in 2019

As police officers, we’re in the business of being there when bad things happen. Therefore, we often become the topic of bad things in discussions. It’s hard for people who are always responding to horrific acts – like our city’s despicable homicide rate – to come up in the same conversation as really great things that happen in our community. As we reflect on 2019, however, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the good things in which our department has gotten to be involved.

Social workers
Our social workers continue to make a tremendous impact on the lives of people throughout Kansas City. This was the first full year we’ve had one at all six patrol divisions. Their job is to help in situations that come to the attention of law enforcement but cannot be resolved by police. They’ve helped a family whose home burned down. They’ve helped victims of domestic violence start new lives. And ultimately, they’ve gotten residents the resources they need to be successful and reduced the need for law enforcement involvement. As of Dec. 3, KCPD social workers have assisted 1,815 people and attended 488 community outreach events in 2019.

Community Interaction Officers
Our 12 Community Interaction Officers (CIOs) – two at each patrol division station – have worked tirelessly to build relationships with residents and make neighborhoods safer. They’ve provided block-watch training for countless neighborhoods to empower residents in keeping their communities safe. The CIOs work with business owners to implement security measures and address concerns. They’ve worked hand-in-hand with social workers to address issues of repeated calls for service to particular addresses and in finding help for families in need.

They have organized countless free community events from family movie nights to job fairs for ex-offenders to health and safety fairs to Christmas parties for deserving youth. Our Kansas City United Against Crime events coordinated by CIOs in the first weekend of October brought communities together to play, learn and get to know one another. Our Halloween events – undertaken with business, church and non-profit partners – gave thousands of children a safe place to go on Halloween. All of these things also built lasting relationships between children, their families and KCPD.

Youth programs
One of the biggest ways we can impact the future safety of our city is through building trust and understanding with youth. I’ve previously written about Teens in Transition, the Police Athletic League and many other things we do to facilitate those relationships. We expanded the Police Athletic League last year to include PAL Nights - a structured and fun environment for urban-core youth on weekend nights in the spring and summer. This offers a safe place for kids to socialize and enjoy themselves while getting to know officers in a relaxed setting. 


I wanted to highlight a few of our other youth initiatives here:

Youth Police Initiative – Our Youth Police Initiative began in 2018, and an academic review of the program in 2019 shows what an impact it’s making. The program’s goal is to bring at-risk youth together with police officers to share personal stories, meals and to let their guards down long enough to have difficult and honest discussions that will create relationships and understanding for both the youth and officers. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice surveyed the 45 participants in our Youth Police Initiative at the beginning and the end of their week in the program. Over the course of that week, the teens who said, “I know at least one police officer who I can trust” went up by 181%. You can read more about it in our February 2019 Informant newsletter.

Youth Police Academy – This week-long version of the Citizens Police Academy for middle schoolers had more than 150 participants from throughout the City. They did everything from dust for fingerprints to learn conflict resolution.

Catching Fury – This camp was designed by women on our department and at neighboring police and fire departments to encourage young women ages 13 to 17 to pursue careers in public safety in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America. More is on p. 3 of our June Informant newsletter.

Explorers – We’ve recently restarted our Police Explorer Program in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America. This program is for youth ages 14-20 to introduce them to all aspects of our department so that they might consider careers here. Explorers also volunteer with KCPD and will be issued uniforms and radios.

School Resource Officers – We have School Resource Officers (SROs) serving at several high schools in the Kansas City Public School District. They are there in an official capacity to help with security and enforce any laws as needed, but what they really do is serve as mentors. For many of the kids in those schools, the SROs are one of the few people in their lives who offer stability. Many students confide in the SROs, and the SROs have been known to take teens having a hard time under their wings. I would love to be able to expand our SRO program. 


DARE - We have DARE officers in nearly every elementary school in this city - parochial, public and charter - north and south of the River. We believe getting officers in contact with children at a young age teaches them that police are trustworthy and there to help. I regularly hear rave reviews from teachers about the impact our DARE officers have on children in the schools they serve.

Badges for Basics
Our Badges for Basics program is solving crime and building trust with toilet paper and shampoo. This collaboration with the non-profit, Giving the Basics, provides hygiene products to members of our community who have difficulty affording them. Our officers go to high-crime and low-income areas to hand out these products so residents can have dignity. The Badges for Basics partnership earned the Excellence in Collaboration honor from NonProfit Connect’s Philanthropy Awards in May and has been featured in multiple national publications. From March 21 through today, Badges for Basics has given out nearly 30,000 hygiene products.

Holiday help
Just two weeks ago, we partnered with Hy-Vee and Harvesters to provide 500 free Christmas dinners to needy families. On Dec. 23, we worked with Hy-Vee again to deliver catered meals to four deserving families identified by our social workers. Many Christmas gifts were delivered that day, as well. I couldn’t possibly count how much money our members spend out of their own pockets to make the holidays brighter for so many families in our community. It’s not just during the holidays, either. I’d be willing to bet every officer on this department has bought a Happy Meal for a child in a tough situation.

Assisting sexual assault victims
One of our crime scene technicians went viral with her idea to provide new sheets and bedding to victims of sexual assault. CSI usually has to take these items to process for physical evidence, and it often is the only bedding the victim has. When our CSI tech asked for donations of new sheets to provide to victims, the request went viral on our Facebook page in 2018. It recirculated again this year, and we received so many packages of new sheets and bedding in 2019 (from Kansas City and around the world) that we ran out of room to store them and distributed them to neighboring agencies.


Many of the things outlined here are not short-term fixes to problems like violent crime or mistrust of law enforcement. They are means to meeting long-term goals of a safer city for everyone and a trusting relationship between KCPD and the community. We are in it for the long haul. Fixing the problems of violence and mistrust takes long, hard work, and we are committed to that.

We may not be able to convince every last person that we are here for good, but for the 32 years I’ve been here, this police department has been working tirelessly to build as much trust as we possibly can. I think that sets us apart from other cities where a trusting relationship with the community isn’t such a priority for law enforcement. That trust is a very big deal to me and the members of the KCPD, and we will work toward it with every Trunk-or-Treat, social worker visit and 911 response we can.

You may have noticed that many of the good things we got to be a part of in 2019 were the result of partnerships with individuals, non-profits, faith communities and businesses. These are people who care deeply about their city and want good things for it. They help pay for the projector at movie nights, holiday meals at Christmas and Halloween candy for children. They transport beds for our social workers to give to families who don’t have one. They give us hygiene products to help those who need them for dignity. They are the unsung heroes of Kansas City.

What I’ve outlined here are just a very few of the good things we got to be part of in 2019. Yes, we will always be there when the bad things happen, but we look forward to being part of more and more good, as well.


Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org