South KC Perspective
By John Sharp
Unfortunately, 2022 was the 2nd deadliest year in KCMO’s history with 169 homicides, just 10 less than the 179 homicides in 2020, our city’s deadliest year when there was a homicide nearly every other day.
In 2021 there were 157 homicides, and there were only 138 in 2018.
While several larger U.S. cities have a much higher total homicide rate than KCMO, our city’s per capita homicide rate is one of the highest in the nation among big cities.
In a series of public listening sessions and an online survey conducted in 2022 during the search for a new police chief by the Public Safety Coalition – a group of business, faith-based and neighborhood groups including the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the South Kansas City Alliance – participants in south Kansas City and the westside and northeast parts of the city listed reducing homicides and other violent crimes as what they thought the new chief’s top priority should be.
Reducing homicides and other violent crimes was listed as what should be one of the new chief’s top five priorities in every part of the city.
New Police Chief Stacey Graves has said reducing homicides and other violent crimes will be one of her top priorities and that she is committed to developing a citywide collaborative effort to address the core issues that lead to such crimes.
She also has said the department will put much more emphasis on publicizing the state’s seldom used pretrial witness protection program, which includes funding for relocation if necessary, and the city’s new victim/witness relocation program.
Both programs should encourage more witnesses to come forward to report what they know about homicides and other violent crimes without having as much fear of retaliation. But witnesses need to know about them for them to be effective!
The South Patrol Division recorded 16 homicides in 2022, down from the 22 homicides recorded in South Patrol in both 2021 and 2020.
For the past five years, the highest number of homicides have taken place in East Patrol, followed in order each year by Metro Patrol, Central Patrol, South Patrol, Shoal Creek Patrol and North Patrol.
During that period the two patrol divisions north of the Missouri River had far less homicides than any of the four divisions south of the river with Shoal Creek Patrol never having more than 7 homicides in a year and North Patrol never having more than 3.
On the other hand, homicides in East Patrol ranged from 78 to 48 annually, and homicides in Metro Patrol ranged from 48 to 33, and homicides in Central Patrol ranged from 36 to 24.
Firearms were the means of attack in 154 of the past year’s 169 homicides, according to the Police Department. While the cause of most 2022 homicides is unknown to the department, arguments were the largest known cause.
The youngest homicide victim in our city during 2022 was a little 2-month-old infant girl, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jocob Becchina.