By Abby Cambiano
Northeast News
June 2, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – New surveillance cameras and license plate readers along Independence Avenue are already helping solve crimes, including a kidnapping that occurred near Independence Avenue and Hardesty early last week.

The footage, which is actively being investigated by KCPD sex crime investigators, was provided by the Real Time Crime Center and helped locate the victim, who was found wandering down Independence Avenue. Police were able to identify the car that dropped her off with the cameras and license plate readers.

The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) partnered with the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID) in an effort to cut down crime in the Historic Northeast through the use of security cameras and other surveillance technology along Independence Avenue.

“The new cameras stretch Independence Avenue from The Paseo to Bennington,” Bobbi Baker-Hughes, manager of the Independence Avenue CID and Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said. “They’re not viewed on a regular basis; they’re viewed to look at crime after it has happened. It’s an investigative tool.”

With the additional cameras, police can now view the entire length of Independence Avenue. While she acknowledges that some community members are concerned about privacy, Baker said that footage is viewed with a specific purpose in mind.

“There are folks who are really concerned about Big Brother,” Baker said. “They are not watching us drive down the street, or walk down the street. They’re there to help solve crimes.”

The Independence Avenue CID contributed $60,000 worth of equipment to this collaborative effort, according to a June 1 press release. This donation paid for two new license plate readers and eight new surveillance cameras. The CID had previously donated $15,000 for security cameras last year. The new additions were put in place along Independence Avenue about three weeks ago, and are currently up and running.

“We partnered with the CID to come up with a plan to address crime issues on Independence Avenue,” KCPD Sgt. Pat Rauzi said. “It’s also to help officers and detectives who respond to those calls and are looking for additional evidence in a case.”

The Independence Avenue CID is the first neighborhood organization to partner with KCPD to install security cameras in a community. Baker-Hughes said the cameras have already been “instrumental in identifying suspects.”

“I think it’s an effective use of tax dollars, to help reduce crime,” Baker-Hughes added. “I believe that the cameras and the license plate readers are vital to identifying, documenting, and correcting negative activities that impact the community as a whole.”

Rauzi said that the partnership is mutually beneficial because the city budget does not have the funds to employ more officers without raising taxes, so they are instead equipping officers with technology to help them be more effective. He also believes that these kinds of partnerships will become a more common occurrence moving forward.

“I foresee private entities and community groups such as the CID coordinating with and cooperating with law enforcement to solve crime and prevent future crimes,” Rauzi said.

The idea for the partnership came about in a meeting between the East Patrol Division commander, the CID and the Northeast Chamber of Commerce last year. Rauzi said the surveillance cameras are “critical” to improving the safety of the area.

The live video feed can be viewed at the Real Time Crime Center, KCPD dispatch center and by officers on their in-car computers, according to the CID press release. Archived footage is also kept to assist in investigations.

With the new cameras installed, and a reinforced partnership with KCPD in place, Baker-Hughes has a strong message for nefarious actors along Independence Avenue.

“Get the hell out of our community,” Baker-Hughes said.