KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The largest police department in the United States is influencing how cops solve crime right here in Kansas City.
“The technology that we have at our disposal makes it more likely that if you choose to commit a crime in our city, we will catch you,” Kansas City Police Sergeant Jake Becchina said.
A bold promise, if another city is doing something different and they’re having success at it, he’ll bring it back here and we’ll try it here.
Last October Chief Rick Smith went to learn from the largest police department in the country: NYPD.
“He traveled to New York City. They’ve had such a great reduction in crime over the last couple years,” Sgt. Becchina said.
Police are using drones to help officers stay on top of a scene without a high-speed chase. In one case where officers were chasing a guy who was driving a stolen car.
“The vehicle pulled into a convenience store and parked at a gas pump. The driver of the car got out and went inside and so the operator of the drone is clearly able to see that. They can radio to officers nearby,” Sgt. Becchina said.
Another big tool for police: partnerships. Dr. Ed Kendrick is one of those community partners. He has 19 cameras in and around his dental office off of Independence Avenue. He registered with the city through a program called WatchKC.
“Volunteering and signing up for WatchKC is very simple. You just contact the police and let them know that you have a video system and that you’re willing to make those videos available,” he said.
Police say it benefits detectives because it “saves them time, makes them more efficient so that they don’t have to go out and canvass for video.”
Plus, he said, WatchKC is cost-effective since police are using resources already out there.
KCPD has been using Shot Spotter for the last six years. It’s a gun-shot detection systems that alerts police in less than a minute to the exact place where a gun has gone off.
“It gives them those alerts inside of a minute, so it’s even quicker than if somebody picked up the phone and called 911,” Sgt. Becchina said.
Sometimes those technologies all come together for the perfect recipe for prosecution, like in this case of one metro shooting caught on camera. Before he realized it, the driver was already weaving a web of evidence.
“Just right around the corner down the street from there, the vehicle, the suspect vehicle had driven by a license plate reader,” Sgt. Becchina said.
Between footage, information about the car, and the Shot Spotter tool, the victim in that case recovered while the shooter went to jail for aggravated assault.