Chief of Police responds to rise in violent crimes in south KC

“South Patrol has experienced an uptick in violence in the last couple years that’s been very unexpected….Obviously, that meets a staffing challenge.”

By Max Goodwin

Friday, December 3, at 10:30 p.m., just two days after a Neighborhoods meeting with KCPD at the South Patrol station that focused in part on rising crime, KCPD officers were dispatched to the scene of a fatal shooting in the 7900 block of E. 88th Place. 

One adult female was found unresponsive and officers performed CPR. EMS arrived and pronounced the victim deceased. The victim was later identified as 35-year-old Cicely Shirley. An adult male was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police have developed a subject of interest in the case who is not in custody. 

In that case, there is a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest. If you have any information on this shooting, you can call the Homicide unit at 816-234-5043, or if you wish to remain anonymous you can call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477.

The same reward is available for information in a shooting that happened in the early morning hours of December 1. A vehicle was struck by gunfire while driving northbound on Blue Ridge Rd. by an unknown vehicle. The shooting happened near 87th street and Blue Ridge Rd., less than a half mile away from the location of the December 3 shooting. 

A victim was hit during the course of gunfire at 87th and Blue Ridge. The driver called 911 and pulled over at 81st and Blue Ridge Rd. where police were dispatched. 

EMS workers pronounced the victim deceased at the scene. Police have identified the victim as 19-year-old Isaiah D Abraham-Brown. 

Abraham-Brown’s murder was discussed by KCPD along with other recent shootings and violent crimes as an issue of urgent concern at the  neighborhoods meeting hosted by Center Planning and Development earlier this month.

“South Patrol has experienced an uptick in violence in the last couple years that’s been very unexpected,” Chief of Police Rick Smith said at the meeting. “It’s grown faster than we had anticipated ourselves. Obviously, that meets a staffing challenge.”

Smith discussed the rise in crime within the context of the department’s recent budget proposal for the upcoming Financial Year 2022-23, and the need KCPD currently has for officers.

There are currently 1,190 officers employed by KCPD. In the new budget proposal that has been submitted to city council, KCPD requests a total budget that would allow for a total staff of 1,412 officers. That is the number of officers KCPD would need to have a “full staff,” the Board of Police Commissioners determined during two budget hearings.

“We’re not usually at full-staff,” Smith said. “There’s always attrition that happens in the Police Department as you go through the year. People retire and people move on but the goal is to get as close to that number as we can.” 

Smith said the highest number of officers KCPD has employed during his time as chief, which began August 2017, was 1,387 officers.

Police Chief Rick Smith

The 2023 budget for KCPD laid out by the Board of Police Commissioners is an increase of 11.2 percent from the past year, Smith said. 

On December 7, City Council members had their first look at the KCPD budget request. The total budget requested is $273 million, with about 94 percent of that going to salaries of employees, both for officers and other staff at KCPD. The police department presented its request to the Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday morning. The final decisions on the budget will be made at the end of March. 

“All of that increase is for salaries, or personnel on the police department,” Smith said. “94 percent of the  police department’s budget is for salaries and benefits for officers. That leaves six percent for everything else.”

While homicides have decreased this year around Kansas City in comparison to 2020, a year that set a record for most homicides ever recorded in the city, the same trend has not been reflected in the South Patrol Division of the city.

Last year there were 176 total homicides city-wide. In 2021, the number sits at 158 homicides city-wide. There were 20 homicides recorded in the South Patrol Division in 2020, according to KCPD’s Daily Homicide Analysis. That number was surpassed in 2021, with 22 homicides by year end. A shooting at 11612 Hickman Mills on December 6  was the 22nd homicide of the year in the South Patrol Division.

South Patrol is not the only patrol division of KCPD to see an increase in homicides. The Central Patrol Division has seen 35 homicides this year in comparison to 27 last year. The largest decrease in the number of homicides was in the East Patrol where there have been 40 homicides this year after 75 were recorded in 2020.

Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the recent outbreak of violence recently.

Hard to see the staggering amount of crime we’ve experienced recently and to hear folks merely say we need more of the status quo that has us flirting with murder records for years,” Lucas said. “Those of us who care about these issues beyond slogans will keep pushing for a safer Kansas City.


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