There is a new boss at the West Patrol Police Station. He is Maj. John Cosgrove, a veteran officer who has served in Kansas City, Kan., since 1984.
Maj. Cosgrove, who lives with his wife Kerry and two daughters in the Piper community, said he is pleased with his new position. He has served in the Downtown and South patrols and was commander of the Community Police and Homicide units.
The West Patrol Station was established in the early 1970s; the first office was in the Professional Building of the Wyandotte Plaza Shopping Center. Allan Meyers, who went on to be Police Chief here, was the first West Patrol Commander.
Other highly competent officers also have served in the West Patrol as commanders. They include Maj. Don Ash who resigned from the Police Department to become the current Wyandotte County Sheriff; and two more recent commanders, Maj. Tyrone Garner who forged an excellent relationship with west area businesses; and Maj. Vince Davenport, whose officers conducted an extensive contact program with residents.
One of my responsibilities as executive director of Business West is attending the monthly meetings of the West Patrol Advisory Committee. The patrol area covers the Northwest portion of Kansas City, Kan., generally west of 69th Street.
One of the committee members is Donna Knopp, the manager of the Legends Outlet. She has said at least three times during the past few years that the Legends has an excellent relationship with the Police Department, particularly its community police officers including Kelly Sluder. Knopp said she has worked for shopping centers across the country including those in the San Francisco and Chicago areas, and the police here are, by far, the most cooperative.
The Police Department here recently released crime statistics; violent crime is down 14 percent compared to last year. When you look at the West Patrol numbers, it gets even better; there has not been a homicide since October in 2010.
Several years ago I recall a conversation with Ron Miller who was Police Chief. He subsequently went to Topeka where he remains as chief. Miller told me of a conversation he had with Carol Marinovich who was then Mayor. Miller said that the Mayor told him, in no uncertain terms, that the crime rate must come down. And it did.
One of the features at the West Patrol Advisory Committee meetings is a review of recent incidents. These are displayed on electronic maps on TV screens.
The West Patrol officers know where the potential crime locations are; there is a concentrated effort to be quite visible there.
When I wrote the history of Wyandotte County in the 1950s, I noted there were only eight homicides in the entire county in 1954; in 2012, there have been 12 homicides; in 1985, there were 72, a peak. Obviously there has been a substantial improvement in more recent years. But why the modern-day increase compared to the 1950s?
Those who study crime estimate as many as 80 percent of all homicides are drug-related. In many cases, people are killed when drug deals go bad. In the 1950s, most of the murders resulted from domestic disputes.
Police officers in Kansas City, Kan., today are well-trained and highly educated compared those of earlier years. That is important as they face serious challenges in providing very important security for the community.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.
He is the executive director of Business West.