KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Police in Kansas City, Missouri told a committee of City Council members violent crime has been trending down in the city during the past three years.
The numbers came during a presentation on Wednesday at the request of the city’s Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee.
Capt. Doug Niemeier told the committee the city has seen a spike in violence during the month of August, but data shows the perception that Kansas City is headed in the wrong direction is incorrect.
Data Niemeier and Sgt. Jonas Baughman presented Wednesday explored homicides, assaults and robberies. The numbers reflect a general trend down during the past three years. Baughman said aggravated assaults are the one category that has been slightly at or above the three-year average.
“The month of August, as we all know and have talked about a lot, was a tough month for Kansas City for violent crime. And the numbers are still down,” said Niemeier. “The chief told us this morning we need to start planning now for what we are going to do next August to address the situation.”
Part of the strategy the police department has used this year to prevent violence is employing social workers and more community interaction officers.
Niemeier told council members social workers help with conflict resolution, teaching people not to reach for a gun to solve a problem. The community interaction officers are in tune with the people they serve and can often solve problems before they escalate into violence.
The captain gave an example of how an officer addressed an issue that came up during a previous city council meeting.
“The officer just got up and went out. He was gone about an hour, came back and it was fixed. Those are the things that don't make the news at night. Those are the kind of things people don't hear, but we are fixing people’s problems on the spot,” he said.
Niemeier admitted it is hard to quantify the impact those positions have on violence, but he is confident anecdotal evidence like the story he told makes a positive difference.