KANSAS CITY, Mo — With violent crime on the rise in Kansas City, Missouri, police who fight it need as many tools as they can get to track down the bad guys and put them away.
The expected budget for KCPD this year is $219 million. For the most part, that goes to pay the bills.
But there’s a foundation behind the scenes dedicated to providing additional money to fight violent crime.
“Overall, I believe it has made a huge difference, and I have seen it myself before I retired from the department,” said Tye Grant, president of the Police Foundation of Kansas City.
Before retiring in 2019, Grant spent 26 years with KCPD. As a member then commander of the tactical team, Grant went after the most violent people in Kansas City.
“To be a progressive department, law enforcement agency, which Kansas City deserves, that takes money. That is very expensive,” Grant said. “And within their budget, the money is just not there to buy progressive technology, to attend progressive training to the extent that KCPD needs to do that.”
“That’s where the foundation steps in to assist.”
In January, 71-year-old postal worker Barbara Harper was driving home from work at 2:30 a.m. and was shot and killed on I-70 downtown.
A seemingly impossible crime to solve was caught on cameras paid for by the Police Foundation, and the license plate readers, also provided by the Police Foundation, led officers to the shooter who was arrested 8 hours after the crime.
The Police Foundation of Kansas City also supports programs to stop violent crime before it happens.
“It’s critical. If it wasn’t for them, then we would not have this position, so it is very vital,” Trina Miller said.
Miller is a social worker at KCPD. Her department is paid for by the Police Foundation.
Miller and her colleagues follow up with people after police officer involvement and provide resources to break the chain of crime and generational cycles that keep people in poverty.
“They have different barriers, different situations,” Miller said. “So we just come in and walk along-side them and get them back up on their feet.”
Jyndia Riddle has spina bifida and was a direct recipient from help provided by the Police Foundation of Kansas City.
Riddle came across Miller, not after a police encounter, but as someone discouraged and in distress, not able to afford a leg brace after surgery which is a critical component in healing.
“I was really encouraged and that I was cared for and it was great,” Riddle said.
Miller found resources for Miller to receive the brace she needed but couldn’t afford.
Besides donations from other charitable foundations in Kansas City, the Police Foundation of Kansas City’s major annual fundraiser is the Call for Backup. The next one taking place February 28, 2020.
Monies raised by the Police Foundation are matched by the city and paid for by the public safety sales tax.