TKC EXCLUSIVE MUST READ!!! KANSAS CITY CRIME EXPERT FEARS MORE URBAN HOMICIDE AMID CONTINUED DE-POLICING!!!
Dr. Ernest Evans is one of the top Kansas City crime experts and we are grateful for his perspective on historic deadly targeting of police connected locally and the even more tragic consequences that could result. Checkit:
Dr. Ernest Evans: The Summer of Our Discontent
Even before the tragic events last week in Baton Rouge, Saint Paul and Dallas the summer of 2016 was shaping up as a violent summer here in the US. Several weeks ago FBI Director James Comey noted that the surge in violent crime in the US in 2015 was continuing into 2016. Statistics in what is now called "the murder capital of America," i. e., Chicago, bear him out: In June 2015 there were 49 homicides in Chicago--in June 2016 there were 72. Kansas City, Missouri has not been immune to this national surge in crime: So far in 2016 the city has had 52 homicides; compared to 40 at this point in 2015 and 36 at this point in 2014.
There is no one single, easy explanation to this surge of violent crime in the US in the past couple of years, but I generally agreed with Director Comey's argument that the controversy over police shootings of black people has complicated the work of law enforcement officers. Director Comey is not arguing, and neither am I, that police officers should be "above the law" and be allowed to carry out some sort of "Dirty Harry" war on crime. What concerns both of us is that the media coverage of law enforcement in cases like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August of 2014 has often been unfair, sensationalistic and one-sided--and that the accused officers in these cases consequently have a hard time getting a fair adjudication of their cases.
Facts are facts, no matter how politically incorrect, and there are a large number of cases from the past two or three decades where local police departments were the targets of unfair charges of racism, and where in consequence, out of sheer self-survival, the local cops abandoned doing their duties in black neighborhoods out of fear of being the next YouTube sensation. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so the gangs and criminal elements take over these neighborhoods and violence explodes. What the series of high profile cases of police shootings of black men since Michael Brown in August 2014 appears to have done is made this "de-policing" phenomenon into a national crime crisis.
There is no easy way out of this "de-policing" crime disaster in contemporary America. My conservative friends point out that the number of shootings by the police of unarmed black men is actually not as large as is popularly believed. Statistically, they are correct: The staff at the Washington Post has come up with a data base for all fatal police shootings in 2015, and here are the results: In that year there were 980 people shot and killed by the police, of which 280 were black. Of these people shot and killed by the police, 91 were unarmed, of whom 37 were black.
Now, the last calendar year for which we have homicide statistics for the whole country is 2014, and in that year 6,109 black people were murdered. So, 37 unarmed black people being killed by the police in 2015 is a small percentage of the total number of black homicides nationally. However, the actual numbers are not the whole story here, the full story is that in the black community there is a widespread feeling that they are repeatedly unfairly targeted by the police officers. And, as is so often the case in politics, what is perceived to be true can be just as important as what is actually true.
In sum, if we as a nation are to resolve our current crime surge we are going to have to do something that is not fashionable in contemporary America, which is compromise: "square the circle." On the one hand, police departments all of the country are going to have to work with their local black communities to end the feelings of victimization of the part of these communities at the hands of the police. On the other hand, the nation's journalists and community leaders are going to have to accept that in order for police officers to do their jobs they must feel that if charged with racist misconduct they will get fair media coverage and due process. If such a compromise is not achieved, there is every reason to believe that the surge in violence which we have seen since the Ferguson tragedy of August 2014 will continue.