St. Louis police, city officials and civic leaders took some pointers from Kansas City on Monday for strategies to reduce homicides.
In meetings at the police department headquarters, Kansas City police passed along crime prevention strategies implemented as part of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA, strategy, which they credit with last year's drop in homicides.
In 2014, the Kansas City homicides totaled 79, a drop of 21 percent from the previous year. During the same period, St. Louis's homicide total grew to 159.
At a Monday afternoon press event, St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce said her team had been particularly interested in Kansas City's "focused deterrence" method. With the assistance of the University of Missouri - Kansas City criminologists, Kansas City police focus scrutiny on specific individuals and networks which commit crimes.
"It's a great strategy, and it's a proven strategy," Joyce said.
The KC NoVA approach also partners the police and city with religious and neighborhood groups and offers social services to help criminals transition to more productive lives.
Joyce said she was eager to introduce focused deterrence in St. Louis as one of many new crime prevention strategies as soon as the next few weeks.
"I don't think we have the luxury in St. Louis to be slow about making these changes," Joyce said.
Joyce said she has also been exploring crime prevention tactics used in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Arizona.
Kansas City mayor Sly James acknowledged that KC NoVA had only recently demonstrated success and said that the police and city still need to prove its long-term value.
"There are still those that are skeptical and believe this may be an anomaly," James said. "I don't think it is. We don't think it is. But we also recognize that until we prove that it's not then that skepticism has validity."