KCPD Addresses Increase in Violent Crime
Crime hot spots receive increased patrols
photo by 20after4
In 2016, FBI named Kansas City as one of seven cities responsible for increasing the rate of national violent crime. On a list of the top 100 dangerous cities in the U.S. compiled by Neighborhood Scout, Kansas City is 28, a number steadily rising each year since 2012. A Kansas City resident’s chances of becoming the victim of a violent or property crime are 1 in 17. Eighty-six homicides have already been reported in the metro area this year, according to 41 Action News’ homicide tracker. Last year, there were 187.
These statistics are not new to the KCPD. For years they have been studying ways to lower Kansas City’s homicide rates, which is one of the highest in the country. One of their most recent endeavors was announced June 19: four of the city’s highest crime areas will receive increased police patrol, hoping that the visual police presence will discourage criminal activity.
“We are putting extra resources in these violence-stricken neighborhoods to help the residents feel safer where they live,” Interim Police Chief David Zimmerman wrote in a KCPD blog announcement. “I want these officers to build relationships with the residents and deter violent crime, not stop and cite law-abiding citizens for minor infractions.”
These four chosen hot spots could change as often as 72 to 96 hours due to ongoing crime, and Zimmerman pledges that the patrol will change with them.
In 2015, former Police Chief Darryl Forté initiated a similar strategy, focusing more police resources on high-crime areas, specifically increasing patrols in crime hot spots. Forté believed this played a role in the sharp decline of homicides that year. But some studies might show otherwise.
During an experiment evaluated by the Police Foundation in 1972–73, KCPD varied patrols in 15 beats to see if the crime rate would decrease over time. In five beats, patrols were eliminated entirely. Another five beats were set as the “control” by keeping patrols consistent with their routine. And in the last five beats, patrol was increased two or three times more than normal.
Their results found that the increased patrols did not make a consistent difference in crime rates. They found that citizens did not even notice the increased police presence. Though this study does not definitively prove that increased patrols are ineffective, it may suggest that resources could be better spent elsewhere.
Kansas City is not alone in its struggle. After the FBI’s announcement of the city’s contribution to the national rise in violent crime, the U.S. Department of Justice extended federal help to Kansas City and 11 other U.S. cities to combat violent crime.
The other cities receiving federal funding are Birmingham, Ala.; Indianapolis; Memphis, Tenn.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Baton Rouge, La.; Houston; Jackson, Tenn.; Lansing, Mich.; Springfield, Ill.; and Toledo and Cincinnati in Ohio. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he expects to announce partnerships with additional cities later this year.