Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker describes the Kansas City No Violence Alliance not as a program, but as a “mission shift” for how the city tackles violence.
“We don’t expect 40 years of violence to recede in one year or two years or three years,” Peters Baker says.
Peters Baker, along with Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James and several of NoVA’s partners will testify before the U.S. Senate Law Enforcement Caucus in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
NoVA uses a strategy known as “focused deterrence” to emphasize that the community will no longer tolerate violence and instead connect people in crisis with intensive social services.
For example, Peters Baker says NoVA will visit a local church with members of Mothers in Charge, whose children are homicide victims.
“What surprises me about this collaboration is the young men – and some women – that we are attempting to reach are willing to listen to us,” says Peters Baker. “They know they are facing the stark reality of possibly being shot, of being a homicide victim” or of going to jail for their criminal behavior.
Murders in Kansas City reached a 40-year low in 2014 but have crept back up in recent weeks.
Still, Peters Baker isn’t discouraged. She says crime may be persistent, but it’s not unpreventable.
On average, every homicide costs the city $1.2 million – and that’s just the economic fallout.
“There’s a community-wide harm when violence strikes us,” Peters Baker says. “We all identify with it, whether you live north of the river or south of the river, in the city or across the state line. You, too, need to be at our collective table.”
The briefing will be 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.