August 27, 2014
Just a short note to say that I greatly enjoyed your article in the Northeast News about the homicide totals for 2014 compared to this point in 2013. You are right–it is a big improvement.
Now, a lot of people deserve credit for this decline, but I want to give particular praise to Chief Forte. In Jan. 2014, he firmly rebuked Councilman Reed for accusing the KCPD of racial profiling. This was a potential turning point of great significance. The crime surge in our city’s black neighborhoods began in the spring of 2008 in response to the KCMO Police Board’s behavior in the April 11, 2008 meeting on the Sofia Salva tragedy. In that meeting Board members Mark Thompson, Karl Zobrist and Terry Brady did not even pretend to be fair and balanced–instead, they spent the whole meeting falling all over themselves attacking the two officers to show that they were not racists. Now, in human terms I understand why they acted as they did: Being accused of racism in modern U.S. society is a charge that can destroy reputations and careers overnight–and had these individuals conducted this hearing with any degree of fairness a lot of people around the city would have “shaken the rafters” which charges of racism. However, while their behavior was humanly understandable, it was a disaster for the black neighborhoods of KCMO.
A few statistics tell the whole story of this disaster: In the 12-month period after this hearing, there were 137 homicides in KCMO (107 black and 30 other races; of the 94 homicides in 2007, 62 were black and 32 were other races), the highest 12 month total for homicides of any 12-month period in the city’s history except for calendar year 1993. The month of August 2008 was the highest one-month total for homicides in the city’s history–there were 21 homicides and all of the victims were black men and women. Finally, in the heavily black East Patrol District, there were 20 homicides in the last 8 months of 2007–in the last 8 months of 2008 there were 50 homicides in that District. No other district in the city registered any significant increase in homicides for 2008.)
After the April 11, 2008, Police Board meeting the cops in KCMO were on notice: If accused of racism forget about due process from a city administration that lives in mortal terror of the Politically Correct Police. So, out of sheer self-survival, the cops largely abandoned efforts to fight black on black crime–and crime in the black neighborhoods of the city exploded; remember, 93 percent of the black people who are murdered are murdered by other blacks, so when the cops start ignoring black on black crime violence explodes in black neighborhoods. What, temporarily, brought an end to this bloodbath in the black neighborhoods of KCMO was a courageous act by former Chief Corwin: When city councilman Sharp attacked the KCPD for excessive force in a riot at the Plaza in April 2010, Chief Corwin left his office and came to the council chambers and strongly defended his officers. Reassured by the Chief’s words, the homicide rate fell back to 2007 levels: In the twelve months after Chief Corwin’s appearance at the council chambers, there were 98 homicides in KCMO. I feel that Chief Forte’s January 2014 rebuke of councilman Reed is having a similar impact on the morale and motivation of the KCPD to fight black on black crime–anyone inclined to accuse Chief Forte of being an “Uncle Tom” should take note of this reduction in black homicides.
Kansas City Resident,