KCPD officer spends his off day helping allay seniors’ crime concerns

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Concerns of crime sent one Kansas City police officer to an East side neighborhood Friday, but instead of patrolling, he got out his tool kit.

Officer Charles Chambers volunteered on his day off to install new brighter, motion-sensor porch lights for several senior citizens who live along Bellefontaine Avenue in an effort to make them feel safer.

“I have concerns and I care about them,” Officer Chambers said. “Sometimes they don’t think that, but I do. I want them to be safe. Nobody should be afraid to live in their own home, ever.”

Ruth Gordon, an 88-year-old woman who has lived in the neighborhood for more than four decades, was among those he helped.

“Scared to death,” was how she described feeling sometimes inside her house.

“I sit in this chair and when I hear gunshots, I’m wondering if I’m protected,” she said.

Gordon said over the years, her East side neighborhood has changed – and not for the better.

“You don’t know if they’re shooting in random,” she said. “You don’t know what they’re doing. So it frightens you because you’re not used to that.”

Worried, she called the Kansas City Police Department and on Friday, Officer Chambers showed up on her front porch.

Trading in his uniform for overalls, he lent a hand.

“Just wanted to give back,” he said as he screwed in the new upgraded light fixture he said will help deter criminals.

It was just a small change and a few minutes of handy work Officer Chambers hopes will help Gordon feel safer, while giving her and others in his patrol area a chance to see beyond his badge.

“It’s very important that they understand that we’re people too,” he said, “and we’re here to protect them and to make their life safe.”

For Gordon, it brought more than just light on her front porch; it gave her peace of mind.

“That really relieves me of a lot of fear,” she said of the finished product. “That helps me so much.”

Officer Chambers installed several lights on Friday and plans to do more in the future – all of which were paid for by the city's Neighborhood Services Division.

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