The Kansas City Police Department lost 85 patrol positions and 24 patrol bureau jobs this year as a result of the city’s 2016-2017 budget, according to Chief Darryl Forte.
That’s a loss of about 8 percent, and according to Chief Forte, that’s the equivalent of staffing a whole suburban patrol division and then some. Chief Forte wrote on his blog:
Here is how eliminated positions break down in some of the most visible bureaus – Investigations and Patrol:
24 from the Investigations Bureau (includes Violent Crime, Violent Crime Enforcement and Narcotics and Vice divisions)
85 from the Patrol Bureau:
- Central Patrol reduced by 24 positions to 162 officers.
- Metro Patrol reduced by 14 positions to 150 officers.
- East Patrol reduced by 17 positions to 155 officers.
- South Patrol reduced by 13 positions to 94 officers.
- North Patrol reduced by 9 positions to 92 officers.
- Shoal Creek reduced by 2 positions to 92 officers.
- Special Operations Division (includes Tactical Enforcement, Canine, Mounted Patrol, Helicopter and Bomb & Arson) reduced by 2 positions to 81 officers.
- Traffic Division reduced by 4 positions to 85 officers.
In a previous blog post, Forte outlined changes made in 2015 to reduce costs:
- There were no raises.
- 100 civilian and 60 law enforcement positions were eliminated through attrition.
- Purchased half the number of vehicles they were slated to.
Forte added that KCPD answered 1.2 million 911 calls last year, and due to less staffing, response times have "gradually increased since May 2015, by up to a minute in some places."
Rosilyn Temple, executive director of KC Mothers in Charge, said, "It bothers me because we need them. I come in connection with these officers, these police officers, and they're really trying to make a difference in our community."
Temple defended Forte by stressing that, "I think he's doing the best he can do with what he has to work with, you know? I see my chief riding down the street, riding in different places on his motorcycle or in his car. He's in our community. They want more officers but nothing to work with, so we need to help."
Officers in East Patrol receive the highest concentration of calls and that has some residents there concerned.
Over the weekend, police responded to two homicides in the city’s Northeast side.
Manny Abarca, Vice President of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association, worried the budget cuts are hurting public safety.
“That’s an issue that the city needs to help with. That’s not something Forte alone needs to help with that issue. We need to know if we call 911 that they’re here instantly. We can’t expect to wait on hold for 20 minutes. We need to make sure they’re there immediately supporting us,” Abarca said.
Chief Forte said the department will focus on keeping police in crime “hot spots.” Those are targeted areas with high concentrations of violent crime.
Josephine Butcher lives in the East Patrol area as well and said she brings children she baby-sits to nearby Budd Park.
However, Butcher worries “hot spots” alone won’t be enough to keep everyone safe.
“There’s less patrol in this area, but if there’s any going towards Truman Road, they’ve got cops going up and down searching but they should have that up here too to save people over here and not just over there,” Butcher said.
Tuesday’s 9 a.m. KCStat Session at City Hall will focus on public safety and the city’s efforts at reducing crime.
Shannon Halligan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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