KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City, Missouri, has registered 92 homicides so far this year - and according to the FBI, that number is outpacing last year's murder rate, which put the city among the top five cities for homicides per capita in the nation.
Last year, Kansas City had 108 total homicides - which ranks far behind New York City's 515 or Chicago's 431. But Kansas City's murder rate - 23 homicides per 100,000 people - is the fourth-highest murder rate in the U.S.
"Our homicides have been at or over 100 for the past 20 years almost consistently," said Kansas City Missouri Mayor Sly James. But while most cities have seen their homicide rates drop, Kansas City's has gone up.
"The homicide rate in the white, Asian and Hispanic section actually has gone down since 2007. Whereas the black homicide rate has increased dramatically," said James, who says that a number of factors play into the city's homicide rate. "There is an educational factor, a lack of hope that comes with under-education. There's a joblessness factor, lack of jobs that come with that. There's the factor of having more African-American males in prison today then there ever were during the course of slavery and what that does to the home."
But a local professor who studies violent crime rates say that the city's high murder rate among African-Americans is part of the problem, and that the city's police department isn't as effective due to a fear of being accused of racial profiling.
"That if accused of racist misconduct they will not either get fair media coverage or due process from the people in the police department and on the police board," said Kansas City Kansas Community College political science Professor Ernest Evans. "And what happens then is the police officers pull back. They don't follow up leads, they are afraid of being accused as racist. And what happens then is the clearance rate drops dramatically."
Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Darell Forte was not available for comment, but according to the department's online stats, 66 percent of last year's homicides were cleared, while just 45 percent of homicides this year have been cleared.