KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The homicide rate continues to rise, with five new killings over the weekend. The Board of Police Commissioners look at the how to stop violence before it starts – discussing ideas for change after the deadly weekend.
“I challenge all sectors of the community to make this a problem,” Dep. Chief Karl Oakman said.
Oakman responded to five homicides over the span of three days.
During the meeting, Chief Rick Smith noted new preliminary data from the FBI. He said it shows homicides are up 25% nationwide.
“I say this all so that people understand that we are all in this together,” Smith said. “Even though Kansas City is fighting our battle here, but as a nation we are fighting this together.”
Kansas City has seen a surge in violent crime this year.
Thirty-nine people have died in homicides in the city. Five died this past weekend.
That puts KCMO on pace for more than 160 homicides, which would rank second all-time.
“I think Kansas City’s at a point where we just need to have some hard conversations because we’re in a hard place,” Pastor Darron Edwards said.
Edwards aims to “get to the heart of the matter”.
After meeting with more than a hundred of faith, political and community leaders he said one thing keeps emerging, “and that’s the need to take a look at emotional maturity, conflict resolution in our city.”
Oakman said there are a lot of factors to look at like, “guns in the wrong hands, drug use, lack of economic opportunities, education, poverty, anger management, employment.”
Last year, KCPD determined about 70% of homicides happened outside or in a vehicle.
In the fall, they did proactive visibility patrol in high homicide areas.
Oakman said they saw positive results and plan to take that same approach to avoid violence, like this past weekend.
“That was really eye-opening, when I sat back and looked at all five homicides that I went on, you had friends and family of the victim and you had the police. And no one else,” Oakman said. “I think that’s the state of the homicide problem in Kansas City.”
Robert Stinson was one of those family members. He was the Godfather of Dominik Simmons, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed.
“I’m just begging Kansas City, put the guns down and talk about your problems,” Stinson said. “Don’t fight, don’t shoot, you know, violence ain’t worth it.”
The Chief said they plan to meet again March 31st to discuss curbing violent crime.