Homicide rate nears 100; city still struggles with underlying issues

With over 100 homicides expected again this year, police alone can’t be expected to stop what seems a historical trend, Kansas City officials said Tuesday.

Homicide counts have been below 100 in only nine of the last 42 years, Deputy Chief Randall Hundley reported to the Board of Police Commissioners.

For this year, he said, they stand at 98, compared to 100 at the same time last year. They were 93 at this time in 2010 and 103 in 2009.

The clearance rate so far this year stands at 45 percent compared to 59 percent at the same time last year.

Mayor Sly James asked for more information that could give him anything positive to say when people complained about so much sudden death.

The clearance rate will increase this year because many cases will soon be filed, Hundley said. The rate was higher last year because police broke many cases that involved double or triple murders, whereas this year there were more single killings.

Police noted that the hot spot policing effort at the city’s four most dangerous crime areas did work. In about its first six months, the effort of increased patrols and working with citizens reduced homicides at those places from 30 last year to 19 this year.

But more killings happened elsewhere.

James said police can’t be expected to prevent homicides that are mostly caused by social problems.

The city needs to do more to try to reduce it with things like education, he said. “We haven’t done a good enough job.”

Commissioner Alvin Brooks, a former councilman and former police officer, said police can’t prevent the killings and the matter needs to be addressed by society as a whole.

There has always been a propensity to violence in Kansas City, he said, and the murder rate was high even in some years of World War II when many men were off fighting the war.

Hundley noted that most homicides involve a killer and victim who know each other and have a violent dispute.

So picking the right friends can save your life.

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