Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Stacy Graves, accompanied this afternoon by Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas, addressed the city’s record-breaking homicide rate of 182 Homicides in 2023, seven of which occurred in Northeast during December alone.

“In 2023, Kansas City had a record number of homicides,” Chief Graves said. “Violence claimed 182 lives. If one life is taken by violence in our city, everyone should be concerned and everyone should ask themselves what they can do to stop violent crime.”

Graves noted that 22 lives were lost in domestic violence incidents, 80 lives were taken out of retaliation, 21 killings involved drugs, and 15 involved robberies. Out of 182 homicides, 19 of the
victims were 17 years old or younger and 162 lives were taken by violence in the city’s urban core in three of the department’s six patrol divisions.

Despite the sobering numbers, Graves praised homicide detectives, who currently have a 74% homicide clearance rate. The average nationwide is a shade over 50%.

Chief Graves also noted that patrol officers would now be working eleven hour shifts, a change up from the present shift length of ten hours. The Chief also pledged more focused deterrence enforcement
initiatives, a practice modeled after the old NoVA (No Violence Alliance) program the department was utilizing under former Chief Rick Smith. That program targets police resources toward individuals and networks involved in criminal activity.
When asked about Northeast’s record setting December with seven homicides, Chief Graves said additional resources are already on the way.

“We had our weekly meeting, which we call shoot review, and we discussed that specifically,” Graves stated. “I’ve asked the Patrol Bureau Commander, I’ve asked the Major at East Patrol and they had answers for me. I asked, you have this many homicides in the Northeast area, what is
going on over there? Is this a pattern, is this group violence, because that would matter how we would deploy our resources.”

Graves said December’s Northeast homicides all seem to be separate incidents but definitely identify a spike in violent crime. While Graves did not speak to specific resources added in Northeast right now, she did indicate that extra patrols are now part of the picture in Northeast neighborhoods.

December homicides in Northeast include a shooting at Independence Avenue and Cleveland on December 9th a shooting at St. John and White on December 16th, a shooting in the 3500 block of Roberts on December 18th, three days later a shooting outside a liquor store at St. John and Oakley, two shootings on Christmas Eve, one at 1st and Holmes and another at 8th and Olive. The month rounded out with a fatal shooting in the street in the 5200 block of Lyon Avenue on December 29th.

Mayor Lucas noted that while cities such as Omaha and Des Moines may have roughly the same population as Kansas City, some differences are important to note. In terms of geography, as well as Kansas City’s neighboring municipalities that push the total regional population to almost 2 million, makes Kansas City unique in some ways in relation to apples to apples comparisons.

Sgt Jake Becchina addresses the media at last Friday’s homicide in the 5200 block of Lyons Avenue.

“It’s important to reiterate, every city is different,” Lucas stated. “We respect the models and the changes that they have made. That said, the Kansas City metropolitan area is larger than some of
the areas that you have mentioned and what you find is actually a city that largely is dealing with the issues of a 2.4 million person metropolitan area with a whole lot of geographic territory.”

Staffing shortages, almost 300 sworn officers to date, continue to be an issue in basic patrol functions and day to day police operations. Graves noted that an academy class gets off their break
in period on January 21st, another class will graduate in February and one of the largest academy classes in recent history starts in March.

Chief Graves also invited people to step up and take the oath. “We are hiring, Graves said. “We need Kansas Citians to come forward to take the oath and come and serve. Come and serve their city in a
whole other way.”