Shortage of Kansas City police officers remains concern among co - KCTV5

Shortage of Kansas City police officers remains concern among community as homicides rise

Updated:
The biggest shortage is in the Central Patrol Division, an area where homeowners say they’re worried and unprotected. (KCTV5) The biggest shortage is in the Central Patrol Division, an area where homeowners say they’re worried and unprotected. (KCTV5)

Four months ago, at a time when Kansas City was searching for its next police chief, a veteran officer made a passionate plea for help.

“When the lady spoke, it brought tears to my eyes because we can't serve the community because we don't have the bodies to serve the community like we need,” said the veteran officer. “We’re tremendously understaffed and that has not been addressed.”

The heartfelt remarks were delivered at a public hearing and directed to Kansas City’s Board of Police Commissioners. Former Police Chief Darryl Forte also voiced similar concerns.

Chief Forte: Upcoming budget presents staffing shortfalls

In a blog post last year, Forte said the police department was short 89 patrol officers.

Forte pointed to funding as the main issue. Kansas City Police Department spokeswoman Kari Thompson says those numbers haven’t changed.

The biggest shortage is in the Central Patrol Division, an area where homeowners, like Shan Johnson, say they’re worried and unprotected.

“Patrolling this area as long as there is nothing going on once every two weeks that’s about it,” Johnson said.  

Johnson and her neighbors are calling for more community policing and patrols. Meanwhile, Johnson is taking her own steps protect her family.

“Security cameras, motion sensors, and I have to watch my own house," Johnson said. “It’s not cool, but that’s just how it is ... It doesn’t happen like that when you’re in certain other areas.”

We took Johnson and her neighbor's concerns to the police department.

Kansas City appoints new police chief

Two months ago, Mjr. Rick Smith, an officer with 29 years of service, was promoted to police chief.

His goal is to get Kansas City off the FBI’s list of 10 most dangerous cities.

KCTV5 News' requests were denied for an interview with Smith about the shortage of officers on the street.

He agreed to an interview at a community meeting but refused to answer questions concerning officers on the street because, in his words, he has “budget talks coming up.”

However, he agreed Kansas City’s violence and Johnson’s concerns need to be addressed.

“I don’t want people to feel that way in this city,” said Smith. “The police department has a piece of that ... we all have a piece of it as a society to try and make this the best place we can to live. We need to come together as a city and make this better for everybody.”

Smith plans to curb the rise in violence are still unclear.

In his first blog post online, he says the top agenda item is to set employees up for success and secondly is to reduce crime and address neighborhood issues.

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