Kansas City’s Rising Murder Rates

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A total of 193 homicides in the metro area of Kansas City have been reported by the KSHB-TV (a NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Kansas City) 2017 homicide tracker – seven of them were killed by the police and five were children, sixteen years of age or younger.
 
Kansas City's disturbing homicides have often taken on a sound of a familiar tune: shootings are up, murder rates are rising, and in most cases - remain unsolved.
 
A national expert pointed out that Kansas City was among the top ten cities with an increased number of homicides over a two-year period (that is, 2014-2015). Similarly, Richard Rosenfeld – a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis – ranked the city ninth among other cities which started to show startling spikes in homicide rates, such as Cleveland, Orlando, and St. Louis.
 
"The homicide increase in large cities in 2014-2015 was quite real. We are looking at a sizable increase and it is also very abrupt increase."
 
Kansas City landed on Rosenfeld's list when it returned to a typical alarming homicide level after a historic low of 82 in 2014 – the city's lowest homicide total in more than four decades. However, in 2015, the numbers rose again reaching 111; and 130 in 2016 – the city's highest since 2008.
 
Three major trends were noticed regarding the said homicides, according to Chief Gordon Ramsay of Wichita police.
 
First, the killings were not random – the victims and the suspects knew each other. Second, the incidents were mostly tied to drugs. And third, the homicides were often results of arguments fueled by the social media.
 
In addition, the Wichita police reported a breakdown of the recent homicides – revealing that the homicides were argument related, domestic related, had unknown suspects, robbery related, gang related, involved officers, accident, and mostly included handguns.
 
To combat the rise of the violent crimes, Ramsay said that three teams will work on the what-he-called ““problem areas”” and ““problem people””.
 
The first team of ten officers will attend to the drug complaints in residential neighborhoods and will respond to crimes throughout the city, as well. The second team, on the other hand, will be composed of twelve officers who will work on the investigations of known violent offenders. And lastly, the 16-person team will work with the community police teams.
 
But the department alone cannot solve cases without the public's help – such as such as witness statements any kind of or information. And so, the police are requesting for the community's full cooperation.
 
"…we count on the community to come forward and help us with tips in solving these crimes.", Ramsay said.
 
However, while the crime statistics revealed Kansas City's disturbing homicide trend, Ken Novak – a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri – saidid that the alarming reports don't always show the bigger picture. According to him, the homicides in the city have actually declined over the past two decades.
 
"Things are bad. But they've been worse in Kansas City and especially nationally. The homicide rate nationally is half of what it used to be 20 years ago. We forget those types of things."
 
In 1993, the homicide rate in Kansas City was 35.2 per one hundred thousand residents. While in 2015, an overall downward trend was observed with 23.5 homicides reported – mirroring the national decrease in violent crimes.
 
According to the data obtained from the Kansas City Police Department, census data, and FBI crime statistics, Kansas City's homicide rate is higher than that of the national rate. But Novak defended his statement saying that larger cities tend to have higher homicide rates than that of the national average because of a larger concentration of people.
 
Indeed, looking at the FBI data for average homicide rates from 2010-2014, Kansas City is seventh behind other U.S. cities.
 
But why is Kansas City the worse?
 
"People have no money, are living in blighted conditions, and in a dysfunctional family setting – so violence is going to occur. If we address that three-legged stool, we'll see a reduction in violence," said Domestic Violence Lawyer, Samantha Greene.


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