KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NewsNation Now) — Want to get a taste for how busy police are in America?
NewsNation Now correspondent Brian Entin did just that by spending the day with Sgt. Terry Grimmett in Kansas City, Missouri.
The crime was nonstop. It started with a police chase of a man reportedly armed with a gun. It didn’t take long for cops to stop the car and arrest the driver.
Next, police used naloxone to save a man who had overdosed on the side of the road.
Grimmett said the day’s incidents were, unfortunately, pretty common.
The rest of the shift included another overdose, a man reportedly waving a gun around, and a person getting shot twice in front of his house.
There were also people constantly running from Kansas City police. Most of the time, it is police policy to just let them go.
“That is the nature of the beast. They run, you let them go. We don’t have nothing but traffic charges. Clearly, they were up to no good. But we might never know what they were doing or what they were about to do,” Grimmett said.
It’s a frustrating time to be a cop, and it shows in the number of job vacancies nationwide.
In Kansas City, there are 225 openings for police officer positions.
The latest nationwide data shows large departments hired 36% fewer officers as of May 2021 than they had at the same time a year earlier
“I think morale is definitely something that is a big issue. Low manpower. You have officers going from call to call to call. It wears on these officers,” Grimmett said.
Just like in many U.S cities, the last several years have been among the deadliest in Kansas City.
The U.S. murder rate rose 30% from 2019 to 2020.
The year-over-year increase in the U.S. murder rate in 2020 was the largest since at least 1905 — and possibly ever.
Kansas City police Chief Richard Smith says the murder of George Floyd, and protests around the country, have made it difficult to find men and women who want to be police officers.
“You can’t go out and bash the police and then say, ‘why don’t we have good police?'” Smith said.
“When I took the test back 34 years (ago), I think there were 400 of us in the academy class. We gave the test a while back and there were just four,” Smith said.