While Kansas City experienced a significant drop in homicides last year, St. Louis saw an explosive growth.
Despite a significantly smaller population, St. Louis recorded 159 homicides — more than twice Kansas City’s 78.
And St. Louis has 22 already this year, ahead of last year’s pace when it had 18 at the same time.
Meanwhile, Kansas City’s 10 killings this year is only one more than this point last year, when the city recorded fewer than 80 homicides for the first time since 1972.
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That stark contrast in homicide rates between Missouri’s two largest cities has prompted a contingent of St. Louis community and law enforcement officials to visit Kansas City on Monday to look at what many attribute to Kansas City’s success in decreasing homicides: the Kansas City No Violence Alliance.
“We’ve been traveling around the country to study best practices and strategies,” said Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for Jennifer Joyce, the circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis.
In the past week, Joyce traveled to Philadelphia and New York to look at their violence reduction programs.
“We hope to learn from other cities that have done a phenomenal job of decreasing their homicide rate,” Ryan said.
Joining Joyce in Kansas City on Monday will be representatives from the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department and the U.S. attorney’s office.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, KC NoVa project manager Maj. Joe McHale and professors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City will be among those speaking with the St. Louis group.
KC NoVa is made up of a broad coalition of leaders from the political, law enforcement, community, academic, clergy and social service areas.
It employs a two-pronged strategy of identifying the most active criminal groups and targeting them for increased law enforcement scrutiny while offering social service help to those who want to escape the criminal lifestyle.
Using information gathered from police, UMKC professors have used social networking software to map connections between individuals within the criminal groups. Key members are targeted to receive the message that violence no longer will be tolerated. If they continue to commit violent acts, then they and their associates will be subject to intense law enforcement action.
But they also are offered the opportunity to get help with job training, housing, education, substance abuse treatment and child care.