Kansas City residents facing record levels of gun violence distrust the police. Experts say that matches a pattern seen across the U.S. in which a lack of trust in police drives gun violence. the Kansas City Star reports. Police says shootings and homicides go unsolved because of a lack of witnesses. The newspaper interviewed 75 residents, activists, faith leaders and survivors in the Missouri Gun Violence Project, with the nonprofits Report for America and Missouri Foundation for Health. The project will investigate causes, consequences and possible solutions to gun violence. This year, Missouri’s three biggest cities — Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield — are on track for their worst years of gun violence ever. In Kansas City, 75 percent of homicide victims are Black, though fewer than 30 percent of residents are Black. The less people saw gun violence in their neighborhoods, the more they trust police. The more often people call the police, the less police were trusted. Blacks complained that officers do not live in their areas. When residents reached out to law enforcement, they cited slow response times, poorly conducted investigations, and lack of communication with families.
An analysis of 3,000 complaints against police officers over 10 years shows three of the city’s five patrol divisions produced nearly 80 percent of police misconduct claims. Those are the same divisions where most predominantly Black neighborhoods are found, and where the majority of shootings are reported. Police spokesman Capt. David Jackson acknowledged the problem of trust between law enforcement and Black communities. He disagreed that it causes gun violence. Jackson said it’s not police policies that cause the mistrust and that if some Blacks feel unfairly treated, that is their perception. More than 660 people have been shot in the past 10 months. With more than 155 killed, the city has set an all-time record for homicides.