Darryl Forté rose through ranks of Kansas City Police Department over 31 years

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was the guest speaker at the Feb. 21 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Forté began his career in 1985 and plans to retire in May.
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was the guest speaker at the Feb. 21 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Forté began his career in 1985 and plans to retire in May. along@kcstar.com

Darryl Forté, a lifelong Kansas City resident, is the city’s 44th chief of police, having risen through the ranks after beginning his career in 1985. He is the city’s first African-American chief, succeeding former Police Chief Jim Corwin.

According to his official biography, Forté wanted to be a police officer since he was 12 years old. He graduated from Ruskin High School and earned a degree in criminal justice at Park College, now Park University, before earning a master’s degree with a concentration in management from Baker University. Darryl and Lori Forté have two children.

Darryl Forté, 54, confirmed Wednesday on Twitter that he plans to retire effective May 20. Here is a look at his career:

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▪ Forté spent more than six years in homicide and violent crimes and headed the homicide unit before he was promoted to major in 2000 and assigned to be commander of Metro Patrol.

▪ He became deputy chief in 2006 and oversaw the financial and capital improvement units in 2011 when he became a finalist for chief. He said then that he wanted to be an agent of change and that he had a plan “to address homicides in a nontraditional manner.” The Board of Police Commissioners voted unanimously to name him chief in 2011. He also had the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.

▪ Forté pledged to pour additional officers into crime hot spots and began doing that within a week. He immediately transferred 53 commanders and in his first year doubled the size of the gang squad.

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▪ Forté is known for limiting his time behind the desk and is frequently spotted on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He shows up at homicide scenes and uses Twitter to let his followers know what’s going on. Forté’s tweets are frequently the first information that news organizations have about a murder.

▪ Forté helped the city secure a gunshot detection system called ShotSpotter, which helps direct officers to the area where a gun was fired.

▪ As chief, Forté opposed efforts to transfer control of the Police Department from the state to the city, saying the current arrangement shields the department from political whims and corruption.

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▪ Forté is credited with improving police relations with the community, which many said helped keep the calm in the wake of the 2014 police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., that killed Michael Brown.

▪ Forté required all officers to attend training on “tactical disengagement and redeployment” to reduce police shootings of civilians. Still, the city averaged four fatal officer-involved shootings a year, a rate higher than many cities.

In 2016, Forté advocated reallocating some money earmarked for hiring extra police officers toward demolishing abandoned properties in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Last month, however, he clashed with Mayor Sly James over the high number of drive-by shootings, saying his department needed more officers and other resources to fight the problem in crumbling neighborhoods.

▪ In January last year, Forté suspended nine members of the police unit that handles crimes against children during an internal review of case backlogs.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar

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