Kansas City police chief speaks out about spike in gun violence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There are barely enough crime scene technicians to keep up with the spiking number of crime scenes in Kansas City, Police Chief Rick Smith said in a news conference Friday.

“We're calling [crime scene technicians] in from home. We're struggling to keep the manpower we need to keep up with the demand,” Smith said. 

In a 48-hour period from Wednesday and Thursday, police officers responded to eight shootings in Kansas City. A spokesperson said three people died and 11 people were hurt in those incidents. The violence escalated overnight Thursday into Friday in another shooting. Police officers said a group of three men shot at them as officers investigated a break-in at a home near 68th Terrace and Myrtle Avenue. Officers shot back, injuring one suspect before taking the three men into custody.

“When we have violence like this, against the police, we know we are headed the wrong direction,” Smith said. “This city needs to take a hard look, the people in this city need to take a hard look, at whether this is where we want to be.”

The police chief said he wanted to hold the press conference to share three points:

1)    The police department understands the seriousness of the past 48 hours.
2)    Detectives are working to get criminals off the streets.
3)    Investigators need the community’s help to prevent and solve crimes. 

Smith said when people work with police, the city is a safer place, and the attitude that snitches will face retaliation should be abandoned. 

“I understand being a citizen in Kansas City sometimes it's hard to come up with civic duty, or honor, responsibility, whatever you want to call it, but we're asking for it today,” Smith said.

He got back-up from a pastor and the president of the Foxtown East Neighborhood, where the officer-involved shooting took place. 

“The whole community is getting more and more dangerous. It is going to get more and more dangerous for your kids. As long as you want to stay silent, ‘I'm not going to say anything,’ ‘I'm not going to snitch,’ you're putting your own kids in further danger and the carnage just goes on and on. It's time for it to stop,” Pastor LeRoy Glover said. 

The police department said tips from the community have helped them work the city’s eight most recent homicides. They’ve arrested and charged people in five cases, identified people of interest in two, and have a suspect’s description in the final case. 

In April, Crime Stoppers raised its maximum reward from $5,000 to $10,000. Since then, it has paid out two $10,000 rewards to tipsters who helped solve crimes. Police hope spreading that message encourages more people to give tips. Call 816-474-8477 if you have information about a crime.

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