KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kansas City will end this year with more homicides than ever, shattering the previous 1993 record.
In 1993, there were 153 homicides. 2020 had 174 homicides.
“There’s no sugar coating it. It was a very violent year. This is absolutely the highest number of homicides we’ve ever had,“ said KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina.
Homicides in Kansas City are up 28% from last year.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association shows a 29% increase nationwide.
Kansas City has 10 comparative police departments which are similar in size and demographics.
Most of those departments show similar trends or even worse. Two cities did not show an increase.
Criminologists are still debating why 2020 was so violent but several factors are obvious- coronavirus created economic hardships and uncertainties. Experts also point to civil unrest in large cities sparked by George Floyd’s death.
“We’ll be unpacking this for years, if not decades,” criminologist Ken Novak said.
Novak points out Kansas City was already peaking before 2020’s violence wave.
“We were already high and then we kept on pace with the nation! We shouldn’t forget that. We shouldn’t forget Kansas City is a particularly violent city,” Novak said.
KCK also saw an incredible spike in homicides this year. However, it did not break the previous record set back in 1994.
Non-fatal shootings have increased in KCMO. But there’s no clear nationwide picture. Most departments lump non-fatal shootings in with aggregated assaults.
Kansas City saw a 21% increase from last year.
“Someone who shoots another person doesn’t decide whether or not they are intending to kill them. Sometimes they live because of medical care or proximity to a hospital or good or bad luck,” Sgt. Jake Becchina said.
Criminologist Ken Novack agrees non-fatal shootings are important to track.
“It’s important to look at NFS as a separate category from aggravated assaults because in a lot of ways they were just a less successful homicide,” Novak said.
Novak says for every homicide there are generally four non-fatal shootings.
KCPD clearance rate is up.
KCPD had a bit of good news in this violent year. The homicide clearance rate is up from 55% to 72%.
It’s the opposite pattern for many larger departments which solved fewer cases. Many blamed the coronavirus and the ability to conduct in-person interviews. Police departments also struggled with staffing as officers and detectives were required to quarantine.
Suspect identification was rough in a year where many people were masked in public.
Sgt. Becchina credits new staffing patterns for Kansas City’s improved clearance rate.
“We added 20% to each of our homicide squads. We went from 6 to 8 in each of those squads,” said Becchina.