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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Monday addressed an uptick of killings that left several dead within the span of a week, alluding to possible changes in approach necessary to counter a “status quo that has us flirting with murder records.”
Eleven homicides have been reported across the metropolitan area, including eight in Kansas City proper, since Nov. 29 amid an exceptionally high increase in the violent crime rate. Three fatal shootings unfolded in separate shootings across Kansas City on Monday alone.
Most of the homicides were the result of gun violence — a trend typical in Kansas City, where nearly 90% of homicides annually involve the use of a firearm.
In a tweet, the mayor said it is difficult to “see the staggering amount of crime we’ve experienced recently and to hear folks merely say we need more of the status quo that has us flirting with murder records for years.”
“Those of us who care about these issues beyond slogans will keep pushing for a safer Kansas City,” the mayor said.
The mayor’s comment comes as there have been contentious debates over the past five years related to addressing violent crime in the city. Among them was the effective disbandment of a nationally regarded program called KC NoVA, short for Kansas City No Violence Alliance, which used an approach called focused deterrence that targeted police resources based on the concept that a small group of people are responsible for most violent crime.
Under KC NoVA, the city’s homicide rate dropped to a historic low of 86 in 2014. The program was stripped of resources under outgoing Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, whose tenure as the city’s top cop has been met with controversies related to the city’s murder rate, race relations between police and people of color, and police use of force.
As of Monday, 146 people had been killed in Kansas City during 2021, according to data maintained by The Star.
The figure is lower than last year’s record-setting number of killings with 182. But the city is on pace to meet or possibly breach the second-highest number of 153 homicides in a year, a record first set in 1993 that was tied in 2019.
The Star’s Kaitlyn Washburn and Humera Lodhi contributed to this report.