Get behind a promising anti-violence plan in KC
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City has too many shootings, too many killings and too many gun-toting thugs who have come to believe they can outwit the police.
So the initiative announced this week, the KC No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA, deserves support. It represents a comprehensive attempt to dramatically reduce violence in Kansas City over time by aggressively confronting known criminals and troublemakers.
Called “focused deterrence,” the approach has shown success in cities like Cincinnati, Boston and Indianapolis, which all reported decreases in homicides and shootings.
In Cincinnati, police compile reams of data about the activities of troublemakers, including surveillance photos. They summon the subjects and their networks to meetings, and inform them that they must cease with criminal activity or face arrest and swift prosecution. Then they carry through on the warning.
Offenders who want to leave the criminal lifestyle are offered access to substance abuse treatment, job training and other social services.
The KC NoVA initiative will also include social services. It will use data compiled by researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to identify who should receive attention and what sort.
High on the list should be conflict resolution skills.
According to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Police Chief Darryl Forté, most of the shootings that occur in Kansas City aren’t the result of organized gang activity or drug operations. Rather, they are the result of poor decisions by people with guns.
“It’s just poor anger management and not being able to resolve a conflict,” Forté said.
A concerted effort to convince people to resolve differences in non-deadly ways would greatly benefit the city.
To make the initiative work, Forté will have to convince police officers to embrace the new approach. Baker will have to follow through on the threat of swift prosecution when there is probable cause. More grant money will be required to fund the social services.
Other cities have made focused deterrence work. With sustained focus, Kansas City should be able to, also.
As Forté said, “We know what will happen if we do nothing.”
We know all too well.