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New Strategies For Combating Crime In Kansas City

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Kansas City has tried many programs to reduce violent crime.  But despite them all, the first 5 months of 2012 have seen more violent crime than in many recent years.

A new program focused on the social networks of violent criminals aims to change that. It’s called KC NoVA, short for the No Violence Alliance. Participating agencies include the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, the KCPD, the Mayor’s office and the US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

UMKC’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is also pitching in. They’re supplying background data and helping to identify local trends. Hear from UMKC Criminal Justice professor Dr. Ken Novak  to learn more about KC NoVA.

Interview Highlights

“What the role of the social networking will do is to identify not just those people who are crime-prone, but who they hang with and make sure that those groups of people recognize that if anybody in their group gets involved with violence then the full weight of the criminal justice system will come down not just on them but on their social network..."

"The social pressure from peers to not commit crime actually is much more effective than the threat of criminal action by the police or the prosecutor’s office.”

“It’s not designed to just be a zero-tolerance, lock-up-more-people type of approach.  In some cities, Cincinnati as an example, by strategically identifying those who 'need to go to jail' as well as identifying those who would be more amenable towards social services, they actually saw their total jail population for violent crimes decline at the same time that the violence on the streets declined.”

“One of the problems with having a city that has a lot of violent crime is that it does have an indirect impact on the local economy…"

"If Kansas City has a higher crime rate than other cities, corporations may be less likely to invest economically in Kansas City, and the cycle continues...Getting a handle on the violent crime problem may be a precursor to larger economic development within the city and the region.”

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.


A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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