TKC SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL REPORT!!! DR. ERNEST EVANS INVESTIGATES THE KANSAS CITY CRIME SITUATION!!!
Tonight we want to offer one of the finest and most important studies of the Kansas City crime dilemma that we've ever featured on this blog.
To wit . . .
DR. ERNEST EVANS BLESSES OUR TKC BLOG COMMUNITY WITH A THOUGHTFUL STUDY AND INVESTIGATION OF KANSAS CITY CRIME!!!
Dr. Evans is an exceptionally knowledgeable professor and advocate for local police -- Tonight he explains his research with comparative analysis, stats and a very nuanced perspective on local crime.
Here's one of the most interesting passages that we want to preview . . .
"As a faithful reader of the very fine local blog Tony's Kansas City I am well aware that whenever Tony posts something about the crime situation in KCMO there will be a flood of (anonymous) comments to the effect "what do you expect from a bunch of blacks." Well, my answer is that I expect a lot because there is nothing about the black population of KCMO either racially or culturally that prevents crime from being brought under control. As proof of this one only has to look at my home town of Washington, DC. Washington, DC has a total population of about 650,00--400,000 black, 250 other races. In 2013 DC had a total of 104 homicides--given that the city is 50% bigger than KCMO, it has a much lower per capita homicide rate than KCMO. The brillant leadership by Chier Cathy Lanear of the DC Police Department has turned that city's crime problem around: In 1992 there were nearly 500 homicides in DC. If crime can be brought under control in the black neighborhoods of DC there is no reason to believe that the same cannot be done in KCMO."
And so . . .
CHECK OUT THIS MUST READ PERSPECTIVE ON KANSAS CITY CRIME THAT ALSO HELPS TO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS TO OUR VIOLENT LOCAL PREDICAMENT!!!
Read for yourself . . .
The Current (Feb 8, 2014) Crime Situation In KCMO By Dr. Ernest Evans
"With Malice Toward None, and With Charity Toward All"
Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural
Crime Situation in KCMO in 2013
The homicide total in KCMO fell slightly in 2013 compared to 2012--from 109 to 106. However, around the nation most other large cities had much larger drops in their homicide stats: As Ms. Christine Vendel of the Star noted in an article on Jan. 1, 2014 the ten largest cities in the US registered an average drop in the number of homicides of 15.9%. As far as the racial breakdown of the homicide stats, the pattern that we have seen since the spring of 2008 is continuing: In 2007 there were 94 homicides--62 black and 32 other races. In every year since 2007 there has been a significantly higher homicide total for black homicides than there was in 2007, while homicides for other races have declined from their total in 2007 or stayed ths same. So, crime-wise, since the spring of 2008 KCMO has been "A Tale of Two Cities"--the crime rate in the black neighborhoods of the city has increased considerably, while in the white/asian/hispanic neighborhoods of the city crime has declined or stayed steady. Also, the per capita rate of homicides in KCMO is quite high by national standards: The city in the nation with the most homicides is Chicago--in spite of LA and NYC being considerably larger cities population-wise. In Chicago in 2013 the homicide rate per 100,000 citizens was 16--in KCMO it was 23 per 100,000 citizens. Finally, while our clearance rate for homicides has improved from the quite low levels of 2009 and 2010, we are still at only about 55% clearance rate for homicides--compared to a national average of 63% clearance rate.
Erroneous Ideas About KCMO Crime
People evaluating crime in KCMO often fall into two statistical "traps" when looking at the city's crime data. The first is to note, correctly, that homicides have fallen since the early 1990's--in our highest year for homicides (1993) we had 153 homicides, compared to 106 in 2013. However, this analysis misses the point that all over the nation homicide totals have been falling since the early 1990's--in NYC in 1992 there were 2250 homicides while in 2013 there were 326; in Los Angeles County there were 1500 homicides in 1990 compared to 500 in 2010. So, that KCMO's homcides since the early 1990's is hardly news--what is news is that in percentage terms our fall in homicides has been one of the lowest of any large city in the nation. Second, the argument is made that while homicides have surged in KCMO's black neighborhoods since the spring of 2008 other forms of violent crime are down in these neighborhoods. This argument ignores a fact that has long been apparent to students of crime: There is an inverse relationship between statistics on homicides and statistics on other forms of violent crime. When there is a surge of homicides in certain neighborhoods of a city, other forms of violence in those neighborhoods "fall"--they do not actually fall, it is simply that the gangs and the criminal elements have gotten so strong that people are afraid to report crimes. The converse is also true: When homicides decline significantly, other forms of crime "increase" because people have less fear of reporting crime. In Chicago in 2012 there was a major surge of homicides--and other forms of crime "fell." In NYC in 2012 there was a major decline in homicides--and other forms of crime "rose." Put simply, the full extent of the crime disaster in the black neighborhoods of KCMO since the spring of 2008 is not reflected in the ostensible crime statistics.
What Does Not Cause High Homicide Rates in the Black Neighborhoods of KCMO
As a faithful reader of the very fine local blog Tony's Kansas City I am well aware that whenever Tony posts something about the crime situation in KCMO there will be a flood of (anonymous) comments to the effect "what do you expect from a bunch of blacks." Well, my answer is that I expect a lot because there is nothing about the black population of KCMO either racially or culturally that prevents crime from being brought under control. As proof of this one only has to look at my home town of Washington, DC. Washington, DC has a total population of about 650,00--400,000 black, 250 other races. In 2013 DC had a total of 104 homicides--given that the city is 50% bigger than KCMO, it has a much lower per capita homicide rate than KCMO. The brillant leadership by Chier Cathy Lanear of the DC Police Department has turned that city's crime problem around: In 1992 there were nearly 500 homicides in DC. If crime can be brought under control in the black neighborhoods of DC there is no reason to believe that the same cannot be done in KCMO. Finally, let us stop pretending that KCMO much too high homicide totals are due to the recession: Around the country most cities have had major falls in homicide totals since the recession began in 2008; our city's crime problems are not due to a lot recently unemployed fathers killing people to as to feed their hungry children; however comforting it is to believe such politically correct nonsense.
The Phenomenon of "De-Policing"
Police officers are required to do, and to do on a regular basis, a most un-PC thing: Use violence against racial minorities. And, while people whose only knowledge of police works comes from watching TV may not appreciate this fact, police work always looks terrible on camera--as a number of police officers over the years have told me: "Doc, there is no such thing as a nice takedown, they all look terrible on camera." So, if police officers are going to have the morale and motivation to fight black-on-black crime, they have to be assured that if accused of racism they will get due process and fair media coverage; remember, the great bulk of blacks killed are killed by other blacks--93% of the black people killed last year were killed by other blacks--so when cops stop fighting black-on-black violence violence in black neighborhoods explodes. This phenomenon of cops abandoning their duties in black neighborhoods is called "De-Policing." There are a number of contemporary examples of such "De-Policing." In NYC in 1987-1993 there was a crime disaster set in motion by the Tawana Brawley case. Ms. Brawley was a black teenager who claimed to have been gang-raped by six white police officers. In 1989 a grand jury ruled that she had fabricated the story, but by then the damage was done: The local media gave the story massive and quite sensational coverage--and community leaders held angry meeting where they shook the rafters with cries for "swift justice" with "no legal niceties." (Pardon me for mentioning this, but when I was growing up in the South in the 1950's and 1960's the people who called for "swift justice" with "no legal niceties" wore white robes and burned crosses. In the immortal words of Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Al Sharpton, meet your "soul mate": David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan!!) Crime exploded in the black neighborhoods of NYC in 1987-1993--in 1993 there were 2250 homicides in NYC, a massively disporportionate number of them in black neighborhoods. (As I noted above, in 2013 there were 326 homicides in NYC.) In Cincinnati in the spring of 2001 there were several days of rioting after a black teenager was shot by a white police officer--same reaction as in NYC with the Brawley case on the part of the local media and the community leaders--In 2000 there were 22 homicides in Cincinnati; in 2001 there were 40 and in 2002 there were 52--with all of the increase coming in the black neighborhoods of the city. And Prince George's County, Maryland has been in the middle of a homicide explosion since 2001 that has earned it the name of "Gory Prince George's": in 2000 there were 71 homicides in PGC, in 2001 there were 123--in 2005 they set a county record with 173 homicides. Even total the homicide totals for PGC are well above what they were in 2000. The reason for this crime disaster are pretty straightforward: In 2001 in a prosecution that was widely seen as heavily politicized a young policewoman named Stephanie Mohr was sentenced to eight years in a federal prison for civil rights charges. The rest of the cops in PGC took notice and acted accordingly, as this quote from a PGC officer shows: "We on the PGPD for the most part are now looking the other way. After almost (deleted) years on the job I find this disheartening but a necessary fact tosurvive in today's, what appears to most officers, an ANTI-POLICE environment. We are even being told by some supervisors to keep a low profile so 'you're not next on the front page.' "
The Sofia Salva Case and "De-Policing" in KCMO
This brings us to the Sofia Salva tragedy. In Feb. 2006 two KCPD officers stopped Ms. Salva for a traffic violation. Ms. Salva was pregnant--she had a miscarriage the next day. In response, Ms. Salva got a large financial settlement from the city and the two officers were fired. Before I go on to discuss the impact of this tragedy on the crime situation in KCMO, I feel that in the interest of full disclosure I should note my personal connection to the case. I am part of a Catholic prayer group that meets once a week. At our meeting after the Salva video was released we debated what we should do about this tragic incident. One young woman spoke up: "Our duty as Christians is clear: We much reach out ministerially to all three people in the video. We must act as the Amish did in reaching out to the family of the man who killed their children. Our Lord has taught us to hate sin, not the sinner." So, we did reach out to all three people: We had Masses celebrated for them, we prayed regularly for them, we sent them "Thinking of You" cards, and we bought each of the three a copy of the famous book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." I make no apologies for what my prayer group did in this matter--we feel that it is what Jesus would have done. There were several local ministers who were "all over the media" on the Salva tragedy--I wrote to all of them, told them what my prayer group was doing, and, Christian to Christian, asked them to do the same. It greatly saddens me to report that all of them refused my request to reach out ministerially to all three of the individuals. I would be the first to admit that I am a miserable excuse for a Christian, but I really did expect better from ordained ministers.
One can debate whether the two officers should have been fired, but I do not want to deal with that issue in this memo. Rather, I want to discuss how the way that this tragedy was handled by the journalists, politicians and community leaders in KCMO played a major role in the crime disaster in our city's black neighborhoods since the spring of 2008. With a few honorable exceptions, the local media covered the Salva case in a totally one-sided, sensationalistic and inflamatory way: It is my professional judgment, and the judgment of a number of highly-respected experts with whom I consulted on this case, that the city's journalists' coverage of this case brought the city within inches of what could have been the worst race riot since Tulsa in 1921. (Several hundred people died in that riot in Tulsa.) Now, in human terms I understand why the city's journalists acted as they did: Dan Rather said it best when he said: "Fear haunts every newsroom in America." By this he meant fear of the Patriotism Police of the conservatives and the Politically Correct Police of the liberals. For journalists all over the country charges of "lacking patriotism" or "apologising for racism" have been career-enders. Any journalist in KCMO who made any attempt to cover the Salva tragedy in a fair way would have been open to charges of "racism"--quite possibly followed by a pink slip. As for the community leaders, they made a major mistake when they compromised the fairness of the judicial process by threatening a convention boycott if the officers were not fired--the city could ill afford to ignore such a threat in the aftermath of the convention boycott over the Frances Sempler appointment. Again, in human terms I understand why the community leaders acted as they did: Racist brutality against minorities by law enforcement personnel is an ugly reality in our society. But by compromising the integrity of the judicial process they set a dangerous precedent: Every cop in the KCPD knows that if accused of racism they will not get even a pretense of due process from a city administration terrified of a convention boycott. The final stage in the crime disaster unleashed by the Salva case came with the April 11, 2008 Police Board meeting on this case. In this meeting commissioners Terry Brady, Mark Thompson, and Karl Zobrist did not make even a pretense of being fair--instead, they spent four hours falling all over themselves to denounce the two officers. I don't want to sound like a broken record but, again, in human terms, I know why the commissioners acted as they did: Had they conducted the meeting in a fair way, the local journalists and community leaders would have gone ballistic with charges of racism.
The disastrous impact of the April 11, 2008 Police Board meeting on crime in the city's black neighborhoods can be seen in the following chart:
Homicides in East Patrol District (Predominantly Black District Where the Salva Incident Took Place)
2007: First Four Months of Calender Year: 10 Homicides
2007: Last Eight Months of Calender Year: 20 Homicides
2008: First Four Months of Calender Year: 10 Homicides
2008: Last Eight Months of Calender Year: 50 Homicides (August 2008 was the month with the highest monthly total for homicides in the city's history--a massively disproportionate number of the homicides in that month took place in the East Patrol District.) None of the other five patrol districts in the city registered any significant increase in homicides in 2008 over 2007.
In sum, in the aftermath of that April 11, 2008 Police Board meeting any meaningful sense of law and order collapsed in the East Patrol District--not until well into 2009 was some semblance of order restored in that district.
What is to Be Done? (With Apologies to V I Lenin)
If the city is to get its crime problems under control, the still open wound of the Salva tragedy must be addressed. I have talked this matter over with a number of people around the country who are experts on crime and violence, and our recommendations for the city are as follows: The city's journalists must be prepared to say, and to say openly, that in future cases of alleged police misconduct they will cover the cases fairly and objectively. In this connection I am most pleased to note that Ms. Elizabeth Alex of Channel 41 has bravely defied the local versions of the PC Police and offered to do a fair interview with former officer Melody Spencer once her legal case with the city is settled. (The local press was particularly savage on Ms. Spencer because they felt that as a woman she should have been more sensitive to Ms. Salva's condition.) Ms. Alex's courage shows that the spirit of the late, great Edward R. Murrow is not dead with respect to American journalism!! Next, the city's community leaders must say, and say openly, that in future cases of police misconduct they will not compromise the judicial process by threatening a convention boycott. As for the Police Board, they must say, and say openly, that in future cases they will be sure to give any accused officers due process. Finally, as a token of their determination not to let something like this happen again, the city administration must be willing to give substantial financial compensation to the two officers for denying them due process, and should handle their termination from the KCPD in such a way that if they want to pursue police work in another city that they option is open to them.
Conclusion: Wisdom From "The Battle of Algiers"
The best film ever made about terrorism is the 1965 film "The Battle of Algiers." It is a dramatic recreation of the fighting in the city of Algiers in 1957 between the French military and the Algerian rebels. There is a scene in this film that has some wise advice for all of us here in the KC-area. A French colonel is giving a briefing to the press about how the French military has greatly lowered rates of terrorism in the city of Algiers. A journalist asks a blunt question: "Colonel, is it true that you have achieved these results using torture and death squads?" The colonel pauses for a moment, and then says; "Everyone in France says that we must put down this revolt, that Algeria must remain part of France. If you want Algeria to remain part of France, you must accept the consequences." There is nothing harder to do in life than to admit mistakes. In handling the Salva tragedy lots of people in KCMO, including me, made major mistakes. But, and here is the bottom line: If we remain unwilling to admit making our mistakes and also unwilling act to correct them, there is every reason to believe that the crime disaster in KCMO's black neighborhoods that began in the spring of 2008 will continue. So, if the city's journalists, politicians and community leaders do not want to correct their mistakes, they must accept the consequences: A continuation of the disasterous crime situation we have been living with in the city's black neighborhoods since the spring of 2008.