Earlier this month, the FBI released a report chronicling crime statistics for 2013. One highlight: The number of murders nationally fell almost 5 percent from the previous year.
Kansas City shared in that drop, as its homicides fell 6 percent.
But Kansas City still reported 99 murders to the FBI in 2013, giving it the fourth highest homicide rate among the 50 largest U.S. cities. That’s even worse than in 2012, when Kansas City was fifth highest in the nation.
Thanks in large part to strategies within the Police Department and a collaborative law enforcement effort called the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, 2014 is shaping up as a much less violent year.
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As of Monday, police had recorded 69 murders. That’s far below the average of 97 by this time over the last four years.
But even Kansas City’s lower murder count would have ranked it among the top third of the most violent large U.S. cities last year.
The FBI report shows some of the bloodiest cities made progress in 2013. Homicide numbers dropped almost 35 percent in Cleveland, 30 percent in Oakland, 25 percent in Philadelphia and 18 percent in Detroit — which still had the highest murder rate among large cities.
A few cities saw a spike in murders, with Indianapolis up 33 percent and Baltimore up 7 percent. Overall, homicide rates fell in 32 of the 50 cities on the list.
Mayor Sly James said he’s pleased with the drop in Kansas City. But he added correctly that funding of effective murder-prevention programs must remain a priority for officials in years to come.
“We’re in this for the long run,” James said.
A look at Kansas City’s five homicides in November shows the challenge ahead.
The first occurred on Nov. 12, outside of City Hall. Jai T. Scott, 45, had just dropped his wife off for work and was in his car when he had some kind of confrontation with a pedestrian. Scott got out of his car, and the pedestrian shot him. Rickey C. Battee, 25, is charged with the murder.
On Nov. 18, 20-year-old Kyle Longdon was dropped off at Truman Medical Center with a fatal gunshot wound.
Bryant Lightsey, 37, was shot in a residence in the 5600 block of College Avenue Nov. 26
On Friday, David Mendez, 45, was murdered after a man intimidated and assaulted several persons in Kansas City and Independence. James Rhymer, 31, is charged with fatally shooting Mendez in a car at 12th and Ewing streets.
The final homicide of November was a stabbing Sunday morning in the 5300 block of Scarritt Avenue. Police have not released more details.
And by early afternoon Monday, officers were working the first murder of December.