Kansas City, Missouri on pace to have record number of homicides - KCTV5 News

Kansas City, Missouri on pace to have record number of homicides

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File photo. (AP) File photo. (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

In Kansas City, Missouri, there have been 40 homicides so far this year.

The most recent was earlier this week when a 23-year-old utility worker was shot and killed while at a construction site at 9th and Brooklyn.

Johnathan Porter's death puts Kansas City, Missouri on pace to have its deadliest year in history.

Everyone KCTV5 News spoke with said that they are incredibly concerned about the situation.

If you look at the numbers, we’ve seen a 14 percent increase from last year to this year with regard to homicides. Last year's total number of homicides reached 151.

If you look at our lowest recent year, which is 2014, we’ve doubled our numbers, which were 20 then and 40 now.

The problem of homicides in Kansas City is nothing new.

“If you ask me, public safety and violent crime are the number one issue we're struggling with as a city at this point,” said Jolie Justus.

For residents, business owners, and elected officials alike, it’s a problem many are saying they need to see something done about.

The question though remains, however, “What is the solution?”

“Particularly since 2015, when we had a significant homicide increase, it's a very real problem,” said Quinton Lucas. “I know the police department is engaged. I think we need city hall to be, frankly, even more engaged.”

The numbers have steadily increased over the years, even as taskforces and studies are put together to try and get a hand on the issue.

Across the city, while no one wants to point the finger at any one entity, many say the real way to tackle it is to combine efforts.

Now, people like Kansas City Transportation Group CEO Bill George are demanding action.

“I have daughters that are deciding where they want to live and two of them already made the decision to leave Kansas City and one of them is going to be in NYC, which is actually safer to walk down the street than Kansas City and it’s started to really concern me,” he said.

George has put forth the different ways he and elected officials believe change can happen.

In a letter, he made it clear the current state of the city is detrimental and informed city councilmembers he won’t contribute a dime to their campaigns unless a “real and credible homicide reduction plan is implemented.”

It was the death of 23-year-old Johnathan Porter that pushed George's letter to city councilmembers. 

“Those outside the area think they're not at risk, those inside the area have become accustomed to the carnage and simply don't have the resources,” he said.

In his eyes, it’s clear where things stand.

“We're in a crisis situation,” he said. “It requires crisis management. No more taskforces, no more studying the issue and everything else.”

Some agree with that hard stance.

“We went through a year-plus study at city hall to try to fix or address violent crime and I think the public can say that's been an underwhelming result,” Lucas said.

Other elected officials say it’s not that simple.

“This is a sustained, chronic problem that has taken generations to get to point where it is now and there's no really quick, easy solution,” Justus said.

Both agree it’s a complex issue that needs all hands on deck.

“I think what you need to see right now is kind of a more concerted, unified effort from the different forces at city hall every week,” said Lucas. “We have the health department working on something, the police department, a number of others.”

While everyone is still working to determine what a proper response may be, they know the approach has to change.

“If you just go after it with a law and order perspective, it's not going to work,” Justus said. “We've been doing that for years and obviously we're not in the place we want to be right now.”

George’s letter has resonated with the elected officials of Kansas City. He will be meeting with several of the councilmembers in the coming weeks to discuss what is happening and what still needs to be done.

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