Kansas City Leaders Need to Get a Handle on Crime Situation—Now
Frequent Show-Me Institute readers are likely familiar with our analysts’ concerns about violent crime in St. Louis, but many of those critiques apply to the state’s largest city, Kansas City, as well. The City of Fountains is presently on pace to blow by last year’s homicide count of 171 killings, which was the city’s second highest on record. It appears Kansas City officials finally believe something has to be done about the murder problem—possibly because the Royals are hinting that they might leave the city entirely.
The Violent Crime Reduction Initiative first unveiled at a news conference in mid-May and doubled down on by officials Wednesday after the latest spike in violence involves what’s described as an aggressive collaboration between police and a host of other groups, who have ventured into some of the poorest neighborhoods to knock on doors, offering social services, and promising enhanced city services to further spread the gospel of crime prevention.
Several community activists and those working with KCPD say the new strategy encourages more collaboration between police and local organizations. But they also say it’s not all that new of a concept. Others are even less optimistic, pointing to a fractured relationship between police and the community, and a focus on criminals instead of the underlying causes of violence. [Emphasis mine]
With continuing attempts at defunding the police, city leaders have done a bang-up job of making Kansas City less safe. While I’m as big a booster as any of my hometown, it’s become increasingly isolated from the rest of the state in its effort to adopt California’s prerogatives rather than Missouri’s.
Like most things involving human interactions, Kansas City’s crime problem is complex. But it shouldn’t take, or appear to take, a professional sports team considering a new home in a neighboring city and county for Kansas City officials to get serious about their most fundamental charge of public safety. Sure, it may be more fun as a government official to show up to parades and wear construction helmets at groundbreakings, but the hard work of governing is far more mundane—and far more important—than waving a pennant during winning years and taking credit by proxy for the athletes assembled by the city’s professional sports franchises.
Kansas City officials need to get back to basics—not just to keep the Royals, but because it’s what they owe all their citizens. We’ll see if it’s too late to keep the baseball team, but to hear the governor talk about it, it’s possible that cake is already baked.