A Tale of 2 Cities


In my research lately about stranger murders, I ran across a couple of interesting things. So, most major cities lie in a single state…. For example, there is no Los Angeles , Nevada as it sits entirely in California. Missouri has two major cities (population of over a million people) that sit on the border. St. Louis, Missouri is shared with Illinois. Kansas City, Missouri is shared with Kansas (this is important for this post). Each has roughly 2 million people living in the metro area. And each has the support of the Missouri Highway patrol. The homicide clearance rate for St. Louis is 48.8%. It’s 69.7% for Kansas City (all numbers taken from 2017 FBI violent crime stats).

Why did I mention the Missouri Highway Patrol? Much to my surprise, the Missouri Highway Patrol is an amazing institution. In the 1980s and 1990s, the FBI actually sent Quantico trainees to the Missouri Highway Patrol for some of their training. In the mid-2000s, the Missouri Highway Patrol built their own crime lab (ala CSI) and all Missouri law enforcement agencies can send evidence to the MHP crime lab for analysis. And the MHP crime lab has earned recognition from the FBI and some other institutions. And the MHP has their own investigators division, with a 71% violent crime clearance rate (higher than nearly any other investigative division in the US). Which is good, because violent crime in Missouri has risen by 9% over the last decade.

Back to the point. The crime rates and clearance rates are much different between the two Missouri cities. The population difference is about 700,000 people. St. Louis has 2,800,000 people in it’s Missouri metro area. The metro area of Kansas City, Missouri is 2,000,000 people. St. Louis, Missouri had the highest murder rate (per capita) of the country in 2017 with 205 murders. Kansas City, had 150 in 2017, which makes it the 5th highest murder rate per capita in the country.

Only, 72 of St. Louis’ 205 murders were solved in 2017. Kansas City solved 88 of their 150 murders in 2017. Now, both of these also followed years in which police departments in both metro areas lost more than 10% of their staff (mostly officers). However, I also discovered on the MHP website that Kansas City Metro is more likely to send evidence to the MHP crime lab than St. Louis, hence why I mentioned the MHP at the beginning of the post. For 2017, the solved murder rate for St. Louis was 35%. In Kansas City, it was 58%.

In 2018, St. Louis had 211 homicides and there were 207 in Kansas City. Interestingly, there was a population boom in Kansas City in 2018, which made it so even though KC had more murders in 2018 than in 2017, the rate actually went down by 10% in 2018 (population had increased to 2,100,00+ people; the population of the St. Louis metro area had no significant change in the same year). This boom, is part of the reason I used 2017, not 2018. The solved murder rate in Kansas City, had increased from 58% in 2017 to 65% in 2018 – 139 of the 207 were cleared).

Kansas City metro does in fact, have more officers than the St. Louis metro area. Kansas City metro also has a much larger selection of investigative officers (like homicide detectives).

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