Forte: Missouri Black Homicide Ranking is Flawed

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new study ranks Missouri as number one in the nation in the number of African-American homicides, but Kansas City, Missouri's top cop says that the numbers are actually flawed.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, Missouri's black homicide leads the nation for the second year in a row. Kansas is ranked number 12 in the nation.

But Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forte says that the numbers used in the study are flawed, and that according to his evaluation of the numbers there is no reason for panic in the black community.

Officially, there were 114 homicides in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2011 - of those, 88 of the victims were black. Forte says that 12 of those cases were ruled to be accidental deaths or self-defense. He claims that other cities don't classify such deaths as homicides, making Kansas City's numbers look worse than they actually are.

"What I've seen is a small increase in cooperation from people in the neighborhoods," said Forte, who says that his strategy of targeting violent crime hot spots is starting to pay off. "If you go out now, if you look at the 17 that occurred in November of last year, we had information on people in all 17, somebody stepped up on all of those. That's what we're looking for when I started hot spot policing."

The study does not include statistics from Florida, and includes only partial data from Illinois.

Forte says that in addition to not comparing uniform data, the study also uses three-year-old statistics, and is not an accurate reflection of what's happening now on the streets of Kansas City.

Pat Clarke, 3rd District committeeman, says that he has noticed a difference in the way police are responding to violent crime since Forte became chief in October. But he says that police can't solve the black-on-black crime epidemic by themselves.

"We have to start with our so-called community leaders," said Clarke. "A lot of us are distant, 'I won't work with him, he won't work with me.' We even have preachers that won't work together. That's the biggest problem right there."

Forte says that only by building trust within neighborhoods can police hope to deter arguments from turning into murders.

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