Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté On Violence, New Training And Abandoned Buildings
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté is starting the year with his hands full, after another streak of violent crime.
So far, the city has seen eight homicides in the first ten days of January. This, following a particularly deadly end of 2015.
“I’ve been concerned (about violence) my entire life as a young male growing up in Kansas City," Forté told host Steve Kraske on Up to Date. "I stay awake at night I think, ‘Darryl what else can you do?’”
He remains confident that KC NoVA is doing it’s job and that without them, homicide numbers at the end of the year could have been even higher.
The chief recently offered suggestions to the city on how they can work together to address crime and is looking for innovative solutions as the department moves forward.
Forté joined Kraske on KCUR’s Up To Date. Here are some highlights from the interview:
On the recent streak of homicides in January
“They are not random acts of violence. Out of the eight that we know details about, seven are so-called friends or relatives that [committed these murders]. I'll give you a couple of examples without a lot of detail: you look at one where someone kills his friend to steal a gun ... one where a husband kills his wife because she wants to leave him. So many things, you look at one because [a man] is aggravated because somebody let someone in an apartment complex and he didn't want that girl to come in ... and he confronts somebody at the apartment that let her in. Little things like that that create big issues. None of [the incidents] are tied together.”
On what might be causing the increase in violence, not only in Kansas City, but throughout Missouri
“I know guns are part of it, but guns have been out there forever. Guns are an issue, but it’s the people using the guns, you see? Mental illness and those sorts of things, lack of prenatal care where people have issues when they were born because they didn't have the proper care when they were in the womb, early childhood education, there's so many things tied to that.”
On new training tactics being enacted at KCPD
"Had I tried to deploy this method when I became chief, they probably would have run me out of here. Timing is everything, so when you look at what's happening around the country, I'm telling my officers, 'It’s OK to back up. It's not being a coward, it’s being smart. You want to go home well and you want others to go home well... It's not just about us.' So we've increased our training — we have to qualify more times at the firing range, we have tactical de-escalation, tactical disengagement, threat assessment. We have to to a better job of addressing the threat … Sometimes we (unintentionally) force people to do some things. We have to understand mental illness and personality disorders, there's a lot of things that we haven't been taught over the years that we need to know.”
On his suggestion to the city council that the city and the police work together to demolish dangerous, abandoned buildings that are hubs for criminal activity in Kansas City
"I understand what the urban planners (who oppose the suggestion) are saying but you talk to some of the neighbors where the house is falling over next door who are worried about the house falling over when a strong wind comes. Those are the people I'm concerned about. And again, I'm talking about the houses that can't be repaired ... the porches are off and the kids can run inside fall through the floor. Our firefighters — we have to think about when they go into these places. It’s much bigger than just a crime issue. It’s a safety issue.
I threw this [idea] out as a merely a suggestion to our board that we might consider doing something different. I want to show the city and everybody else, we're willing to work with the city when it comes to funding ... I'm willing to give up a little bit because again, we can continue to throw human capital at these things, that just means we'll get there two minutes sooner, but it will still be a crime related issue.”
Lisa Rodriguez is associate producer of KCUR's Up To Date. You can find her on Twitter, @larodrig.