Although Kansas City did not gain the top spot, it did earn an impressive fourth place in a feature titled, “These Are 5 Of The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In America,” on Urbo.com, a sophisticated urbal lifestyle journal.
Although other Kansas City neighborhoods might question Urbo’s selection as most dangerous locally, the neighborhood chosen to represent Kansas City is the area around the intersection of Independence and Prospect Avenue. Notes Urbo writer R.J. Wilson, “Where Independence and Providence Avenues cross, and in the areas surrounding this major intersection, people look over their shoulders as they walk down the street. You might not think of Kansas City, Missouri as a violent city, but it has concentrations of poverty just like any city of a decent size. This is one of them, and it’s among the most violent places in the nation.”
Top Urbo honors went to City Center in Newburgh, New York, followed by Washington Highlands in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama’s old stomping grounds in Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens Neighborhood, and South 4th Street in Memphis.
Writes Wilson, “Between 1990 and 2015, homicide rates plummeted. In 2015, though, something changed. Criminologists will be debating what exactly that “something” was, but the end result was that crime spiked.”
Local political scientist Ernest Evans has been writing about that “something” since it happened. Evans traces it to the “Ferguson Effect,” the recognition by police officers that they can do their job bravely and well and still be fired, sued, slandered, and even imprisoned. Ferguson, of course, refers to the August 2014 shooting of “unarmed teen” Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.
“The reasons for this surge in crime are not hard to find,” Evans told the Sentinel. In 2013, the last full year before Ferguson, there were 1427 sworn officers on duty with the KCPD. Today, there are 1294, and the number continues to decline. As a number of veteran cops told Evans: “Nobody wants to be a cop anymore.”
“This decline in the number of cops on the beat is affecting police departments all over the country,” says Evans. “Virtually 100 percent of departments are below their authorized strengths.”
As a way to get Kansas City off Urbo’s radar, Evans has a recommendation. “I would strongly urge the city’s politicians to say, and say openly, that in cases of controversial police-community clashes that they will ensure that the officers involved get due process,” says Evans. “I would further urge the city’s journalists to start covering such clashes with as much fairness as possible–people should not be tried in the media.”