KC to target violent criminals through new initiative

Kansas City leaders are promising the citys most violent criminals a long hot summer./ppAnd it has nothing to do with the weather./ppA new initiative announced Tuesday afternoon will target those thought to be disproportionally responsible for the majority of violent crime on Kansas City streets./ppKind of like cutting out a tumor, said Kansas City Mayor Sly James./ppJames announced the plan, called the KC No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA, along with Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Fort at an afternoon press conference./ppIt will become a long-term collaborative effort aimed at the citys urban core, which bears the brunt of violent crime, they said./ppAnd beyond the focus on taking the worst criminals off the streets, it also will contain a social service component that will help with things like job training, education and health care for those seeking a way out of the criminal lifestyle./ppThe Kansas City plan is the result of several months of planning and studying similar focused deterrence programs in cities like Boston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati that have seen significant decreases in homicides and gun-related crimes./ppIm confident it will yield similar positive results, Fort said./ppThough planning has been going on for months, the program recently received a jump start in the form of a $74,000 grant from Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC./ppPart of the grant will be used to hire a project manager to oversee the effort and part will go to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to collect and evaluate data to determine where resources should be focused and on whom./ppThat effort will include creating profiles of the worst offenders, who can expect to bear the brunt of the concentrated effort, Baker said./ppGet ready, Baker said. Because were ready./ppOthers who will be involved in KC NoVA are the U.S. attorneys office, the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole and various social service agencies, faith-based organizations and community leaders./ppThe effort will be on-going and long-term in order to address what has been a long-standing problem in Kansas City, the organizers said./ppWere in this for the long haul, Fort said. We know that next month there is not going to be a huge decrease. We didnt get into the problem overnight, and were not going to get out of it overnight./ppThe program will utilize components from different cities, including Cincinnati, whose program was featured in a Star story last month./ppThe Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) has shown great promise in reducing gang-related homicides and gun violence by focusing law enforcement attention not just on individual suspects, but their entire gangs or neighborhood cliques./ppRobin Engel, a University of Cincinnati associate professor who worked on the project and spoke to The Star about it last month, was among officials from that city who met with their Kansas City counterparts recently./ppShe said the program lowered group or gang-related homicides 41 percent and gun violence incidents 22 percent in Cincinnati./ppPart of the Cincinnati program involves face-to-face meetings with gang members and their associates during which they are confronted with information gathered on their activities and warned that future violence will be met with harsh measures. As Kansas City plans to do, officials in Cincinnati also offer social service help for those who want to take advantage of the opportunities./ppFort said that Kansas City also intends to employ some form of the face-to-face meetings./ppThe leaders at Tuesdays press conference wouldnt venture a specific time for when they expected to see results, although Baker said she would expect to see noticeable results by next summer./ppAlthough all of the entities involved in KC NoVA have embarked on their own crime-fighting strategies, Baker said it was the first time she can recall such a focused, collaborative effort in the 15 years she has worked as a prosecutor in Jackson County./ppThe leaders all said they are all committed to fighting the problem, and KC NoVA is the best way they have found to carry it out./ppIf we do nothing we already know what will happen, Fort said.

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