KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Homicide rates are rising sharply around the country this year, including locally in Kansas City. According to the Director of the FBI, James Comey, cops' fears of ending up on YouTube could be partly to blame
Wearing a blue tie he said he chose specifically to honor the Kansas City Royals, FBI Director Comey arrived in Kansas City Thursday talking inside baseball.
“I figure there’s no better place to try out this baseball metaphor on you,” Comey said at a news conference at the FBI Field Office in Kansas City.
Comey said if pitchers suddenly were afraid to pitch inside, the result would be more runs for hitters. It’s not batting averages he’s worried about, but homicide rates. Eighty-nine people have been killed so far in Kansas City, Mo., this year compared to 66 in 2014.
The reason he fears, cops afraid to go outside of their police cars because of cell phone-toting citizens.
“They say we are making arrests, we are responding to calls. But where we are stepping back a bit is we might have otherwise got out of our cars and talked to a group, we’re not doing that anymore because we don’t want to be that guy in the video.”
He says he’s investigating other causes including drugs, but they don’t have a common link across the country, or starting point the way the plethora of YouTube videos showing cops clashing with citizens, either verbally or physically do.
He met with members of KC No Violence Alliance and law enforcement from around the area Thursday to try to come up with a way to get cops back on the streets, and not so worried about being in a viral video.
“Hundreds of police officers and chiefs have told me privately they think that’s what’s going on. We all have to ask ourselves if that’s what’s happening because the stakes are so high. This isn't about hits and runs it’s about lives,” he said.
Kansas City police haven’t commented on the FBI Director’s remarks so far. The FBI Director did say body cameras can serve to help protect both the public and law enforcement, but stopped short of recommending them because of legal issues that could arise.