KCPD chief wishes effort behind fighting COVID-19 also went into fighting crime

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As communities reopen, Kansas City is seeing a spike in violence. In just one day this week, a dozen shootings were reported.

“It is disappointing. I don’t think anyone who lives or works in Kansas City wants to see this amount of violence,” Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said. 

Smith has seen some success with new initiatives to weed out crime by targeting troubled neighborhoods, and the police department is working to expand those efforts to track specific people tied to criminal activity.

“We want to make a difference, and I think most members of our community want to see that difference,” Smith said.

During this pandemic, many community partners working diligently to create change aren’t back to full operations yet, complicating the justice process.

Smith wishes a fraction of the energy directed to fighting coronavirus could also be aimed at flattening the criminal curve.

“You see all these resources going toward that to solve this issue, but in the past, we haven’t seen that kind of resource or spearhead of all the partners to work on the other issue, which is violent crime,” Smith said.

DaNearle Clarke grew up in the urban core and has lost many friends to murder. Growing up, he struggled with how to handle it all.

“It’ll weigh on you. It’s a tough process and being young and naive, having a temper, kind of wanting to go out and retaliate,” Clarke said.

A car crash at 18 changed his life and was a wake-up call to shift his energy and make a difference. He’s now an apprentice funeral director, often helping grieving families impacted by homicide.

“When you kill someone, you’re not just taking that person. You’re taking away that family, your family and yourself,” Clarke said.

He thinks young people must learn how to solve issues without weapons, and that no one should ignore the devastating toll crime has on families and our community.

“I believe we are waiting on someone else to actually step up and give us an outlet. Instead, we really need to take responsibility and be part of the solution,” Clarke said.

Smith said a big piece of that puzzle is for crime victims and witnesses to be willing to help. KCPD estimates roughly two-thirds of living shooting victims refuse to cooperate with investigators.

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