KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Murders and violent crime in the United States spiked in 2015 according to the FBI, and experts say Kansas City is partly responsible.
Kansas City was listed among Chicago, Philadelphia, and four other cities that appear to be accounting for a disproportionate amount of violent crime.
The FBI’s newly released Uniform Crime Reporting stats for 2015 show murders in the U.S. jumped by nearly 11 percent, while overall violent crime spiked by about four percent, and experts say Kansas City is part of the problem.
“It really just kind of breaks my heart to see that all of this is going on, especially in the city that I was born and raised and love,” said mom Lartinda Shaw.
Shaw says she’s tired of seeing flashing lights and caution tape blanketing neighborhoods across her community; a sight that FBI stats say became more common in KC in the past year.
“It makes me feel afraid sometimes, scared, everyone knows there`s a problem, but no one quite knows a solution,” said Shaw.
In 2014, murders in the city totaled 78, then in 2015 rose to 109, accounting for about a 40 percent increase.
“There is a racial, generational gap here in our metro and if we don`t invest in our education, if we don`t invest in our community infrastructure, these are the kinds of things that we will continue to see spike,” said Damon Daniel with the AdHoc Group Against Crime.
Daniel says it’s eye-opening to see Kansas City singled out by crime experts, who told NPR that the city is one of just seven that are largely to blame for the national increase in murders between 2014 and 2015.
“This is not something anyone that lives in our Kansas City metropolitan area should be proud of. And this is not something we want our city to be known for,” Daniel said.
It’s a reputation he wants to work to change through programs AdHoc offers, while people like Shaw plan to spark change in the way they raise their kids.
“An idle mind is the devil`s workshop, so we just keep them in all type of activities, keep them in sports, and choirs and everything where they`re not having so much free time on their hands to be able to get in trouble,” she said.
Experts say the new statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, however, explaining the country as a whole is in the midst of such low crime rates that even the tiniest increase appears larger than it is.