Community officers return to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some neighborhood leaders are happy to learn of the return of community police officers.

Interim Police Chief David Zimmerman is allowing commanders to make the change in neighborhoods where dedicated officers may be needed.

Former Chief Darryl Forte eliminated dedicated community interaction officers nearly a year ago, saying all cops on the beat should be reaching out to know their neighbors.

Many community leaders said having dedicated officers working side-by-side with citizens on quality of life issues helped prevent crime and eliminate blight.

With the recent surge in homicides in the urban core, some expect having community interaction officers plugged in to personal relationships can help resolve problems before they turn deadly.

"I think it was reassuring to many community members who grew to rely upon a single point of contact for their community related issues," said Alissia Canady, chair of the city's public safety committee. "So it was a relief to them. However, it does not negate that all officers share in the responsibility of responding to community issues."

Canady also has a concern about slower response times to 911 calls and believes having community interaction officers in strategic trouble spots can make a difference.

Zimmerman says police also are considering providing dedicated resources to parks and the trail network, where there's been a recent rash of violence.