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KCMO investing new revenue in police technology, not more officers

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 20:06:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A new partnership between Kansas City and the Kansas City Police Department will save the city more than $6 million, officials say.

This week, the city and KCPD announced it would merge information technology departments — a move the city said would save $6.5 million in five years. City leaders say the money will be used to improve data storage and upgrade the police department's e-ticketing system.

Some argue that to fight crime more effectively, KCPD needs more officers. Both candidates for mayor, Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas, agree hiring is part of the solution to Kansas City's violent crime problem.

Right now, more homicides have occurred in Kansas City than at this time last year. With school out for the summer, violent crime is expected to spike over the next few months.

"We are going to be ready for that," KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said. "We are going to have our resources allocated properly, and we are going to do all we can to reduce violent crime."

After the city announced it would be putting more money into technology for the police department, some wondered if that money would be better spent on hiring more officers. Roslyn Temple, founder of KC Mothers in Charge, said she is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether the technology investment was worth the money.

"Might be we need both. I don’t have a real angle; let's find out and support the people making these decisions,” Temple said.

Chris Hernandez, a spokesman for the city, said the focus is investing in technology.

"Since we are saving money on technology, we are plowing it into future technology," Hernandez said. "Because the cost of technology is rising every day, and the biggest driver is data storage."

Hernandez said the money saved will go toward upgrading the police department's electronic ticketing system. He also said WiFi at police stations has been improved to help with data needs.

"That actually saves money and allows you to do more innovative policing, more up-to-date policing and keep officers on the street," Hernandez said. "Because you don’t have to cut officers in order to pay for technology."

Temple still believes the focus now isn’t on officers or technology. She said the community needs to step up.

"I think as a community we need to find out what we need, be at the table, and stop saying what we gonna do and get involved,” Temple said.