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Familiar names on the police blotter

For this last week of August, five of my colleagues are providing guest posts on topics they've written on of late. Today, we hear from Vanessa Thomas, who has covered Buffalo police for six years. During that time, she's read thousands of crime incident reports, and I asked her to write about what she's found most striking.

Vanessa_thomas The most striking part about the crime incident reports I read is that I recognize some of the names of these criminals.

Some of these reports describe crimes  -- shootings, homicides, burglaries, fist fights, domestic violence, etc. -- that were so horrifyingly violent that I was haunted in my sleep on a few rare occasions.

It's frightening to read reports about the same people being arrested again and again, and the same people being shot time after time.

The revolving door of our criminal justice system has meant that I can rattle off the names of Buffalo's most notorious convicts and thugs, much like folks can recite their list of friends.

One of those names ingrained on my brain is Larry Kemp, a 25-year-old Buffalo man, who narrowly escaped death for years.

Kemp had been shot three times over a period of three years -- but it was the fourth shooting on Sept. 23, 2007, that claimed his young life.

Kemp had been virtually a living miracle, surviving a gunshot wound to his head and two separate shots to his neck during previous incidents.

I wrote about two of those shootings, including the article about his death.

It's no secret that Kemp was well known to police; he had a felony conviction for criminal possession of a weapon, but he also had family members who loved him.

Buffalo's streets can be a mean place for those dabbling in the criminal underworld.

Many criminals think they're invincible. They're not. I've written the stories to prove it.

Tomorrow: Phil Fairbanks follows up on his recent investigation into the city's runaway vacant housing problem.


Quizzing my colleagues
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