KCKPD rolls out new crime-fighting program, won't focus on immigration

Posted at 8:20 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 11:12:46-04

The Kansas City, Kansas police department is rolling out a new crime-fighting program called ACT, "Addressing Crime Together." 

Most of the city's violent crime happens within a hot zone from 7th street to 18th street and Grandview down to Pacific. 

Police hit the streets with a survey to ask for community feedback. Some questions included — "how old are you?", "do you live in the area?" and "what are your top crime concerns?" 

"I find that interesting, that was the number one issue was speeding and traffic safety," Chief Ziegler said of the results. "Number two is burglary and theft, and number three is drug activity." 

This means people will see more blue uniforms patrolling over the next year. 

"The communication is very important but also understanding the other side. Make sure that the police department is specific on who or what crimes they're going after," Edgar Galicia said. 

Galicia heads up the Central Avenue Betterment Association. Chief Ziegler asked him to come along to help explain the ACT Program to business owners, who are predominantly Latino and may be immigrants. 

Galicia says it's important for the police to understand the immigrant community's concerns for the program to be successful. 

"Even if they're causing some fear, they're also opening doors and communicating," Galicia said. 

Ziegler said he thought it was interesting that business owners thought the police would only be around for a couple months.  Ziegler says ACT will be a 12 to 18-month effort. 

"They were like, 'this is great,' we hope you're going to be here long-term. I thought that was helpful. I let them ask any questions, and of course some questions were about immigration," Ziegler said. 

With that added challenge, Ziegler said the survey feedback was great. The department's data shows the majority of the 590 people they asked completed the survey.

Carlos Ramos, who owns a taqueria on Central, is one of them. He says fear of the police exists in the community, and that when there are a lot of police on Central, he notices residents steer clear. However, he welcomes the ACT Program because he is a victim of crime himself. 

"Last year, somebody stole my trailer in the back. And last night, somebody came and put their truck behind my restaurant. I called the police and they came to check and the truck was stolen," Ramos said. 

Ziegler says more officers will be out patrolling, doing more follow-ups, and working with neighborhood associations to crack down on burglaries. As for reducing drugs, Ziegler is not disclosing that information. 

Because traffic safety is the number one concern, officers will no longer give out verbal warnings for traffic violations. They will give out a written warning or a citation.

"We're hoping that by giving you a written warning as opposed to a verbal, you stick it above your visor. When you head home that night, you see that warning and you say, I was speeding earlier, I need to watch my speed. We think that might be more effective," Ziegler said. 

The department will get help from other agencies like the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, KBI, FBI, DEA, ATF, and Highway Patrol to monitor the data.