By Joe Jarosz
August 20, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – At this point last year, there were 31 homicides in the area monitored by the Kansas City Police Department’s East Patrol Division.
As of Aug. 13, 2014, there have been only 15 homicides in East Patrol.
The division and its work in the community is heading in the right direction. That’s according to Major Rick Smith and the statistical proof he provided to the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee last Wednesday as he gave an update on the East Patrol Division. Smith has been with the KCPD since 1988, but earlier this year, he was promoted to Major of the department’s East Patrol Division after serving as tactical commander for the past three years. Smith has consistenly said he’s a fan of community based policing, and the method looks likes it is paying off in East Patrol.
“The trends overall are looking good,” Smith said, adding that stolen automobiles, property damage and burglaries have also decreased in the division. “The East Patrol [Division] has worked tirelessly on these issues.”
Smith also mentioned the East Patrol Division has multiple community meetings planned in the coming week, including one scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., to discuss area crime. Smith said the Northeast meeting was set-up by community members.
“Sometimes its good to sit down and talk about the problems with the community,” Smith said.
Third district councilman Jermaine Reed applauded the work of the community for putting together a meeting with the police to work on solutions together. Reed also pointed out that citywide, there has been a significant decrease in homicides, 41 this year as opposed to 61 last year at this time.
“There are a lot of efforts that show a significant impact being made on the city,” Reed said.
Smith added there are only four open homicides in East Patrol, “another wonderful statistic.”
Reed also noted and commended recent interactions from East Patrol officers and the residents of Kansas City. Over the past couple months, videos have surfaced on social media of officers playing basketball and competing in a dance off with children. Considering what has transpired in Ferguson, Mo., Reed said race relations in Kansas City between the police department and residents are very good.
“I think our police department does a much better job in the front end [with communication],” Smith said. “We communicate well with the public, sometimes its favorable, sometimes its unfavorable, but we’re not afraid to get up and say ‘Hey, come to the station so we can discuss this’.”
Councilman Scott Taylor said because of the measures taken by the East Patrol Division, more homicides have been cleared this year, as well. Smith added the interactions police are having with communities is an upward trend. The Major said he sees that as the reason behind the building of trust, which has allowed more people to step forward and provide information in regards to area crimes.
“As we all looked at the dance video and might have commented on the officer’s dance abilities, it is the fact that they’re getting out there and trying to make contact with the citizens,” Smith said. “We’re not just driving by in cars with the windows up. We’re getting out of the car and talking to people. There’s officers everyday who get out and play football or basketball with kids and they’re interacting and that’s the thing that’s building trust within the community.”