Fri. Nov 15th, 2019

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KCPD Uses Calls For Service to Increase Safety

5 min read
KCPD Officers

KCPD Publishes Locations With Most Calls For Service, Increases Number of Officers

Missouri’s largest city, Kansas City, has an area of 320 square miles and a population of just under 500,000 people. With this in mind, it’s easier to appreciate just how big of a job it is to deploy hundreds of police officers all across the city. When it comes to manning the city and knowing where they need most of the officers, the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department finds data to be paramount to this task.

KCPD spokesman, Seargent Jake Becchina, stated that the police department spreads its staff across the city in such a fashion that they can timely respond to any alert, regardless of the location in the city. KCPD division commanders, i.e., people in charge of staffing the officers and choosing where to deploy them, use a lot of data in their decision-making process. Namely, they look at the amount of calls for service they receive from specific locations. So, if the police had to respond to a call at one address more times than at another, they’ll send more police officers to circulate nearby. These calls for service which they take into account don’t need to be crime-related, with health and traffic emergencies also regarded important. This also means that they measure how many times the police had to respond to non-emergency situations.

Ten Most Frequent Call Locations

Becchina, in an interview with the press, said that these calls include responses from police, not all 911 calls. He then went on to provide journalists with the ten addresses which produced the most calls during 2018. Here they are, together with the number of calls:

  1. 101 Troost Avenue — Greyhound bus station (841 calls)
  2. 1108 E. 10th St. — City Union Mission (475 calls)
  3. 8551 N. Boardwalk Ave. — Walmart (405 calls)
  4. 11601 E. U.S. Highway 40 — Walmart (369 calls)
  5. 14540 U.S. 71 Highway — Cloverleaf Apartments (351 calls)
  6. 30 W. Pershing Road — Union Station (297 calls)
  7. 918 E. 9th St. — ReStart (288 calls)
  8. 5th Street and Broadway Boulevard — Buck O’Neil Bridge (287 calls)
  9. 8301 N. Church Road — Walmart (255 calls)
  10. 8600 Ward Parkway — Ward Parkway Center (249 calls)

As you can see, by far the most frequent call location was the Greyhound bus station, having almost twice as many responses than the second-placed address. With 841 calls in 2018, this means that the police responded to the station at a rate of more than twice a day. The majority of the calls received from the bus station, located at Troost Avenue and 11th Street, were related to loitering and trespassing. The Greyhound’s communications specialist, Crystal Booker, said that their security staff communicates with the KCPD in order to discourage this type of behavior.

The Greyhound Station

On 10th Street, just across the Greyhound station, is the number two location on the list — City Union Mission. In 2018, 475 calls originated from the homeless shelter. City Union Mission’s Executive Director, Dan Doty, believes that such a number of calls has been caused by substance abuse and mental health issues which are prevalent in the homeless population. While they have their own security personnel, Doty adds, at times they simply have to contact the police.

Since the problems stem from mental problems and drug abuse, you can’t predict what the people will do, which affects the safety of the security staff. Another nearby homeless shelter, ReStart, which has also had a lot of police calls, confirms they face the same challenges. The CEO, Stephanie Boyer, says that many homeless people come with untreated medical conditions.

Walmart

The frequency of Walmart stores appearances in the data is another trend the KCPD have examined. Three of the Walmart stores found their way on the top 10 list. Walmart’s Senior Manager for National Media Relations, Casey Staheli, says that this is the byproduct of having so many customers come to the stores on a daily basis, with the store meeting the needs of a wide audience. Staheli goes on to claim that every retailer in the country faces the same problem. Consequently, Walmart has been making a lot of investment into its security program, adding more staff and technology to the deterrence of crime.

Saheli stated that the investments provided for third-party security, more staff at exits, and eye-level security cameras. Another addition to Walmart is a device called a Lot Cop. With this, employees can interact with suspects on the parking lot from a remote office. They utilize strobe lights, cameras, and speakers which is a preventative measure, with Walmart hoping this would stop a crime before it happens.

Union Station

In some instances, the number of calls for service is high due to the simple fact that a lot of people go through a certain location. For instance, each year, the Union Station in KC has around 2 million visitors. Although the station has its own security, it still averaged less than a call per day in 2018, placing sixth on the KCPD list. Union Station CEO and President, George Guastello, says that on days when they expect a rise in the number of visitors, the station hires off-duty officers. This is especially true when there are activities, such as Celebration at the Station.

The last entry on the list is the Ward Parkway Shopping Center, which contains 40 different restaurants and stores. Due to such a volume of shopping visitors, it’s only normal that the calls for service are higher than in apartment buildings.

Crime Prevention

However, one certain business has managed to produce a considerably larger amount of calls than the Union Station and the shopping center, despite being smaller in size and attracting fewer customers. Cloverleaf Apartments has just 200 units to its name, but there were 351 calls from the location. The property manager says the management has no means of addressing the problem, as they can’t find out where the calls are coming from and why. The calls are regarded as a whole, they don’t break them down to specific units.

According to Becchina, KCPD also looks at these calls and they try to work on finding the root of the problem. The department employs specialized officers to work on crime prevention. The officers collaborate with businesses and intend to change the environmental design in some locations. In Becchina’s words, sometimes simple additions, such as adding lighting or reshaping a parking lot, can do a lot to deter someone who intends to commit a crime. A lot of people have applauded KCPD’s use of calls when choosing locations of importance. As a result, the call time is shorter and the entire community feels safer.

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