As homicides increase, Kansas City grasps for answers, help

Kansas City, Missouri, has a new police chief, and stemming a surge in the city's homicides appears certain to be high on his agenda.

Maj. Rick Smith was promoted Friday to the helm of the department he joined 29 years ago in a city that has recorded 86 homicides so far this year. That's 26 more than the same stretch in 2016. That year ended with 130 homicides, the most here since 1998.

The city's 81 homicides in 2014 were the fewest in 42 years.

While explanations of the rising homicide numbers are elusive, the federal government has Kansas City on a list of communities to help. And the city soon hopes to do what a task force recommended months ago — hire someone to align local violence-prevention efforts among advocates, law enforcers, researchers and activists.