Mayor Sly James of Kansas City and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told members of Congress on Wednesday that crime reduction efforts focusing on teenagers and gang members have shown positive results.
“It’s all about collaboration,” Peters Baker said. “If you don’t have a true partnership … it’s not going to work.”
The Kansas City No Violence Alliance, she said, aims to “attack group or gang violence” and “stop that bad behavior before it happens.”
The two appeared before the Senate’s Law Enforcement Caucus, co-led by Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican.
James described the city’s crime reduction efforts as deterrence by diversion, such as social services, and “swift arrest” or punishment if diversion is refused. He said solutions by the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA, are based on data, facts and technology.
The alliance “analyzes and breaks down data” to know who is causing violence and what they are doing,” he said. The technology also shares information among social service workers, law enforcement personnel and government officials.
The alliance notes that Kansas City is historically one of the top 10 most violent cities in the United States, with an average of 106 homicides and 3,484 aggravated assaults yearly.
The city’s homicide rate in 2014 was the lowest since 1972 — about 17 per 100,000 people — according to a report by the alliance. The total number of homicides last year was 77 and so far this year is 83, according to KC NoVA.
James said the recent efforts have been effective because Kansas City is currently in a “renaissance period” where there are “the right people at the right time.”
Social network analysis identifies individuals to participate in NoVA programs, Peters Baker said.
“They know that they have a great chance to be a victim of a shooting” or be prosecuted in connection with a shooting, she said.
Teenagers at risk of being a victim or committing violence are selected to participate in a “life-skills-based employment program” called Teens in Transition.
The program reported that more than two-thirds of 22 Teens in Transition graduates in 2014 “have not had any negative police interaction since graduation.”
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