In the past few days there has been a great deal of much-needed media attention to the fact that the clearance rate for black-on-black homicides in KCMO has reached alarmingly low levels. Right now it is 41% for all homicides and signifcantly lower for black-on-black homicides. (In contrast, KCK's clearance rate for all homicides is 70%) While this trend is still in an early stage, I do have one alarming concern about it that I think needs to be highlighted:
In April 2010 in response to riots at the Plaza and in May 2010 in response to the Waldo rapist case there were widespread charges by journalists, politicians and community leaders in KCMO of racism by the KCPD. Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to make such charges--but we have a problem here in KCMO when such charges are made: In the Salva tragedy the decision of the Police Board to fire the two officers was made in a climate of open threats of a convention boycott if the officers were not fired. So, the men and women of the KCPD are "on notice": If accused of racism forget about due process--the city is so afraid of a convention boycott that they will fire you without even a pretense of due process. Now, due to events in 2010 in Oakland, California the "stakes have been raised" for the officers of the KCPD. In the trial and sentencing of the officer who shot a suspect in the subway on New Year's Day 2009 there were open threats of a race riot if the former officer were not convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison--and when that did not happen there indeed were riots. So, the cops in the KCPD now know an ugly reality: If accused of racism, they could easily be brought up on state or federal charges by a political establishment terrified of a race riot--a city that is unwilling to stand up to threats of a convention boycott is certainly not going to stand up to threats of a race riot. While the situation is still developing, it is quite possible that the very low clearance rate for black-on-black homicides that we have been seeing in 2010 in KCMO reflects an ugly fact: Out of sheer self-survival the men and women of the KCPD have abandoned serious efforts to fight black-on-black crime because any involvement in fighting such crime opens them to charges of racism if they make a misstep--and if charged with racism they face certain dismissal without even a pretense of due process and a very real possibility of being railroaded to jail.