Friday, October 20, 2017
TKC EXCLUSIVE!!! DR. ERNEST EVANS REVEALS 'FERGUSON EFFECT' AND POLICE SHORTAGE STILL UNDERMINE KANSAS CITY FIGHT AGAINST RISING CRIME!!!
The latest update on Kansas City crime from a top ranking local expert offers a important data and insight into the stark reality which confronts authorities and residents at the end of the year.
Dr. Ernest Evans: The 2016 Crime Situation in the US and in Kansas City
The FBI has just released its Uniform Crime Report for calendar year 2016, and so it is important to survey the 2016 crime situation both nationally and in Kansas City. With respect to the national situation, there has been a large increase in homicides since 2014. In 2014 there were 14,249 homicides in the US--in 2016 there were 17,250. So, in just two years there has been over a 20% increase in the number of homicides in the US. We have not seen such a large increase in such a short period of time since the late 1960's.
This large increase in homicides has not been spread equally among the population. Of the increase of 3,000 in the homicide totals between 2014 and 2016, 1700 were accounted for by black men, women and children homicide victims.
Kansas City has generally followed these national trends. In 2014 there were 82 homicides in the city--51 black and 31 other races. In 2016 there were 130 homicides in the city--102 black and 28 other races. So, in KCMO, the black homicide rate has increased sharply since 2014 and the homicide rate for other races has remained static.
There are a variety of reasons for this surge in violence in America, particularly in its black neighborhoods, in the past several years. America's gun laws are quite lax by international standards, and the illegal drug trade leads to a great deal of gang-related violence. However, the nation's homicide rate had been declining slowly but steadily since the early 1990's--in 1993 there were 25,000 homicides while, as noted above, in 2014 there were 14,249.
Now that we have the perspective of three years since the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014 there can no longer be any doubt that this incident played a critical role in the crime surge we have been witnessing in the past three years. Brown's death has sparked a major national debate about the relationship between local police forces and the nation's black communities.
Much of this national debate was an overdue facing up to unfairness in the way that policing is carried out in different US neighborhoods. However, in the age of the Internet and 24-hour news the debate quickly became sensationalized all too often--and a lot of unfair and inaccurate charges were made against the nation's police officers.
These unfair attacks led to two unfortunate consequences, which cumulatively go by the name of the "Ferguson Effect." First, police officers became afraid to do their jobs in black neighborhoods for fear of being accused of racist misconduct--so in many cases they pulled out of such neighborhoods. Nature abhors a vacuum--so the gangs and the criminal elements took over these neighborhoods and unleashed a reign of terror against the residents.
Second, all of this negative publicity about police officers resulted in a sharp decline in applicants for police academies and to many officers retiring. Now, virtually every police department in the nation is seriously under strength. That includes the KCPD: A recent story on Channel 5 News noted that currently the KCPD is short 89 patrol officers.
Here is the "bottom line," both for KCMO and for the nation as a whole. You cannot fight crime with demoralized, under strength police departments. That fact means that we as a city and as a nation are going to have to do something that has gone out of fashion in our politics lately: Compromise. At both the national and local levels the only way to undo the "Ferguson Effect" is to negotiate agreements to, on the one hand, ensure that police officers who abuse their power are punished for what they do; and on the other hand guarantees that in the adjudication of such charges the police officers in question are given due process and fair media coverage.
In conclusion, I am well aware that "compromise" is currently the ultimate "dirty word" in US politics. But if we don't not make some compromises on our national crime situation there is every likelihood that the crime surge we have seen since 2014 will continue.