Forte to shooting victims: Talk to police
The Kansas City Star
KC Police Chief Darryl Forte on Thursday said he’s ready to help his department do more to get shooting victims to talk to police.
The ultimate and worthwhile goal: Get more criminals off the streets.
The first change is for the Police Department to drop its more or less official policy of not aggressively seeking evidence in shooting cases where victims won’t cooperate with them.
Yes, it would help greatly if the “don’t snitch” mentality so pervasive among some shooting victims in the urban core went away. That’s a big impediment to catching crooks.
But as Forte told me in an interview moments ago, the Police Department must continue working on its efforts to improve its relationships with residents. Get them to talk to police and tell them what’s going on in the neighborhoods.
After all, the city’s 1,200 or so cops can’t be everywhere.
However, the police officers can work more effectively to get evidence and interviews from shooting victims, all in the process of moving cases to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
Then it’s up to Baker to do her job and prosecute good cases.
Forte was tight-lipped with the City Council and media Thursday on exactly what he wanted to change in his department’s actions.
One potential idea: Get better quality video equipment that can be used to get statements from witnesses. Another: Make sure the police make it more convenient for witnesses to talk to police away from their houses, even giving them rides in unmarked cars to Police Headquarters for interviews, for instance.
It was good to see that Forte is open to not just getting but perhaps using some of those suggestions. After all, they come from the community that is most at risk when shooters are allowed to go free when police don’t investigate crimes that have uncooperative victims.
But can the cultures at the Police Department and in the community both change enough to get more victims to talk to police?
I’ve already heard from people who say this is just headed for a ho-hum ending, that it won’t make much difference.
At this point, however, I think having Forte leading the charge for better ways to help shooting victims - and thus help other potential crime victims down the road - is a good thing for KC.