KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – It was another violent weekend in Kansas City, as five people were shot and killed from Friday to Sunday, with two double homicides including one right outside The Power and Light District.
There has yet to be any arrests made in any of these cases, leaving some to wonder if there enough officers to do the job.
In 2007, Kansas City had just over 100 more police officers than it does now. While people like new Mayor Quinton Lucas and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police say the city need more cops, other believe that is only part of solving the problem with crime.
There have been 97 homicides in Kansas City so far this year. Brad Lemon, President of The Fraternal Order of Police, told KCTV5 News that Kansas City’s police force was at its highest in 2007 with 1,422 officers.
“When you decide to cut 100 or more police officers from the police department and pretend the city's going to stay safe as it was is just not possible,” Lemon said.
With budget cuts came fewer and fewer police officers. As of July 31, the Kansas City Police Department had a budget for 1,359 officers, with 44 open positions.
KCTV5 News looked at cities with similar population sizes to see how many officers they have compared to Kansas City. This year, Columbus, Ohio, has 1,800 officers, while Indianapolis, Indiana, has 1,511 and Nashville, Tennessee, has 1,315.
The department is taking steps to become more visible in the community. There are currently 68 officer candidates going through the police academy. The KCPD also doubled the strength of its community interaction program, and each patrol division has a contracted social worker. Officers also do proactive patrol as they have time.
“Responding to 911 calls for service that is our number one priority and then obviously associated reports and things that come from that. Proactive patrol is in addition to those calls for service so as calls allow,” KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina said.
Lucas supports more officers but believes there are other things that need to be done as well.
“I think it’s even more of a sign that whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working, and we need to make sure that we’re working both on the enforcement side and the policing side, mental health, conflict resolution,” he said.
In 2007, federal grants helped pay for more officers. Lemon said elected officials need to make safety a priority.
“If we had 150 kids killed off the Plaza or out south, way north we’d have a different conversation,” Lemon said.
The city council begins working on the budget in the fall. It is voted on in February. The mayor says the police department hasn’t presented their budget yet.