Chief says black-murder-rate study misleading

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City, Mo., Police Chief said people should not be alarmed by a new report saying that the murder rate for black people in Missouri is the highest in the nation.

The Washington-based Violence Policy Center published a report on Jan. 25 stating that in 2009 Missouri's homicide rate of 34.72 per 100,000 black residents was seven times the national, overall homicide rate of 4.76 per 100,000 residents.

However, KCMO Police Chief Darryl Forte said the figures may appear higher than they should because of the use of unverified data and varying reporting methods.

Since the chief started hot-spot policing -- sending more officers regularly into high-crime areas -- he said there has been an increase in tips from the community.

Of the 17 homicides that occurred in November, the department received information leading to arrests in all 17 cases.

"It wasn't just about arresting offenders," said Forte. "It was about building relationships, and that's what we need to do as an organization. I think in order to reduce fear out there and to apprehend suspects faster, we need to do some things that we've been doing recently."

Forte is Kansas City's first African-American police chief.

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