Homicides dropping in Kansas City, increasing in other areas

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Detectives responded to a deadly shooting at an apartment complex near East 82nd Street and Troost Avenue Tuesday morning. When officers arrived, they found the body of a woman on the pavement near the entry. It was the 112th homicide the department investigated this year.

While it may seem like the city is plagued with shootings, and other crimes, the Kansas City Police Department said that if you look at the statistics, it’s actually safer than a year ago when it comes to gun violence. In fact, Kansas City’s homicide rate has dropped 24% over the past year, a trend that is not happening in other cities, according to police.

At this point in 2020, there had already been 147 homicides, 35 more than what the department is investigating in 2021.

“So far this year, across the country homicides are up another 12% above the 30% increase of last year,” Capt. Justin Cobalt, Kansas City Police Dept., said. “Here in Kansas City, … we’re down almost 25% this year compared to last year.”

The number of homicides aren’t the only crimes that are declining in Kansas City. The police department said the number of people injured in shootings this year has also declined.

So far in 2021, officers have responded to 387 shootings where the victim was injured, but was expected to survive. That’s compared to 485 people injured in shootings during the first 9 months of 2020, a difference of 98 people.

The police department told the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday morning that it can’t credit just one thing for the drop in gun violence. Instead, the department said it’s because of a number of things underway in hopes of making Kansas City safer.

“I think the collaboration that we’re, we’re working with our federal partners, with the city, with the social services providers, has got to make a difference,” Deputy Chief Joseph Mabin, Kansas City, Mo. Police Dept., said. “We have to review every week where we go in depth on each shooting and homicide that occurred in the previous weekend and have actual steps to follow up on for the following week.”

But, the department did say that its gang unit and their risk for retaliation messaging is making a big impact.

“It is a message that we typically will give to the family and friends of a victim following a violent act that has occurred,” Sergeant Anita Harris, KCPD, said. “We’re going to ask them not to retaliate or take matters into their own hands. We typically ask them to cooperate with the investigation. And we try to offer them resources and services to get through a very difficult time that has occurred in their life.”

When it comes to convincing people to cooperate, the department said it’s making progress, but it’s not an easy fix.

“Out of the 46 non-fatal shooting victims in August, 33 were cooperative. This means that 13 victims or 28% were initially uncooperative with police and did not wish to pursue charges,” Mabin said. “This is an improvement over the previous month where 36% were initially uncooperative.”

The police department said it’s also taking a proactive approach to go out to the community if it gets a tip that someone is thinking about retaliating following a crime, or if officers are aware of a feud in a certain neighborhood.

“We are going to attempt to contact subjects of family members that are making that threat,” Harris said. “We’re going to advise them that we know that the threats are occurring, and we’re going to ask them or show them that they need to stop. Please don’t take matters into your own hands, it’s typically going to make the situation worse.”

Officers are trained to make sure families have access to grief counseling and other services provided by organizations across the city. The programs can help with things like funeral needs to grief counseling.

The department hopes by helping families with basic needs and services it will prevent violence in the future, and continue to see crime rates decline.

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