By Greg Reeves
The big story today on KC homicides - up 32 percent this year - caused us to dig out a Sept. 23 question-and-answer session we did with City Council member and mayor pro tem Alvin Brooks (left).
Brooks, a Kansas City police officer 1954-1964, has long been in the forefront of combating violent crime, especially homicides, in the city.
He founded the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in 1977and has worked closely with community groups and police on the crime problem.
We called Brooks because the death of Damon White was in the news - and White's family had complained in the past that police neglected his murder because he was "poor, black and gay."
Here's Brooks' take on the question:
Q. Are police even-handed in the way they investigate homicides in the city?
A. I believe so, yes. Very much so. it’s almost like an obsession when one goes unsolved.
It does bother me that just a little over 50 percent of the homicides this year have been solved.
Q. Clearance rates have gone down from past years, haven't they?
A. We are unlike cities of comparable size. The city of Memphis - my cousin’s the former police chief there – has about an 80%-90% clearance rate. Kansas City, Kan., the same; Wichita too.
You keep wrestling with the why. But when you have four or five (homicides) back to back, that really stretches things out. They've assembled a cold-case file, but you have to drop the cold cases to deal with the hot ones.
I get these calls all the time from folks both black and white, 'because we’re poor, because we’re black'. I have not found in my years of working with the police department, since I left the police department and since I started working with them in 1977. that there is a disparity in the manner, or that one case is more important.