“Too few cops on the streets. Too many high-mileage patrol cars. Vietnam-era helicopters. And an alarming spike in homicides.” The Kansas City Star says those are just some of the factors propelling the Kansas City Police Department to seek a $45 million increase in next year's budget to help pay for 54 new officers, more jailers, and 911 call-takers, crime lab upgrades, and more.
This may be the worst possible time to be asking for a 20 percent increase. The request for $270 million – up from $225 million this year – comes as some City Council members and budget analysts say the city's revenues are stagnant and other costs are exploding. “Public safety is our No. 1 priority, but we have no money,” said Councilwoman Deb Hermann, finance committee chairwoman. “It may be tough to just hold steady on what was funded this year. We hope the economy will recover quickly, but no one is saying that.” Mayor Mark Funkhouser, who serves on the police board, was even more blunt. “They have asked for a huge increase,” he said. “That's obviously not going to happen.” While police are asking for more money, the city faces pleas for more dollars to deal with trash removal, streetlight repairs, abandoned houses, sewer upgrades and other programs. Some say that with violent crime escalating, the city has no choice but to free up more money for police. August was the deadliest month in history, with 21 homicides. The city tallied 111 homicides as of Tuesday, on pace for 2008 to be the worst year this decade.