KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Only three years after Kansas City, Missouri, was praised for reducing the number of homicides, the city is seeing a dizzying increase in 2017.
The Kansas City Star reports that 149 people have been killed in homicides this year, the highest number since a record 153 in 1993, at the height of the murders, fueled by crack cocaine and gangs.
The city’s efforts to reduce the number of murders drew national attention in 2014, when only 82 murders taken place. But Kansas City had 111 murders in 2015, 131 last year, and the trend has worsened in 2017.
It is a big problem on both sides of the state. St. Louis has this year topped 200 murders for the first time in more than two decades.
The story is different in many other places. The number of homicides in the nation’s 30 largest cities is estimated to be a decrease of approximately 5.6 percent from last year, according to a recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.
Chicago’s murder rate is a decrease of about 12 percent after two years of large increases. Detroit is projected to see a decline of almost 10 percent. New York is seeing its lowest homicide total since reliable records have been kept: 286 on Wednesday.
New York officials credited a police focus on the gangs and repeat offenders. But Kansas City No Violence Alliance takes a similar approach, without the same results.
In 2014, Kansas City law enforcement leaders greeted the No Violence Alliance as a catalyst that led to the decrease of the number of homicides in nearly five decades. The effort is based on a tactic called “focused deterrence.” Members of a criminal network can be identified and the police tell them their actions may have unintended consequences for others in their cliques. Those who want to pull away from criminal affiliations are offered help by social services.
Almost half of Kansas City’s homicides with known motives in 2017 were inflamed by arguments, police data show. Two-third of the known killers were the age of 17 to 34 years. Nine of the 10 men. Three-quarters were black. The victims were mostly young black men. The murder weapon is a firearm in approximately 85 percent of the cases.
Almost half of the city’s 2017 murders remain unsolved.
Experts baffled about what is driving the murders.
“There are not necessarily any noticeable trends,” police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves said: “more murders.”
The Rev. Elder Lawrence Walls spoke at the funeral of a recent murder victim.
“We are picking up bodies riddled with bullets,” Walls said. “And everywhere there is sorrow.”
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com