Murder and other crimes are down


Homicides and crimes against persons and property are all down so far this year, police reported today.

Homicides, as of noon, stand at 22 compared to 32 at the same time last year.

There have been 2,421 crimes against persons, eight percent less than last year, and 7,242 property crimes, a 12 percent reduction, police officials reported to the mayor and city manager.

Why, the mayor asked.

Deputy Chief Robert Kuehl said, “If there’s been one initiative, it’s been the focus on a more holistic approach.”

Police last year started the No Violence Alliance, a group that includes police and prosecutors, federal authorities, social workers and others.

The alliance has identified up to 40 criminal groups with from six-to-18 members each, said Capt. Joe McHale, NoVA manager.

They let the criminals know they know them and invite them to call-ins, where they try to persuade them to give up crime.

Those who chose the straight path get help and support.

If someone in a group shoots anyone, McHale said, they make arrests and try to close down the whole group within three months.

NoVA is a new approach shaped in a city that has long had among the nation’s highest homicide rates.

From 2008 to 2011, Kansas City’s rate ranged from 23.4 to 25.5 per 100,000 citizens – compared to a national average of 4.7 to 5.4, according to a new department of justice report.

It also reported that 47 percent of the homicides were in a 13-square-mile section of the east side, about 4 percent of the city’s geographic area.

NoVA made mistakes its first year and is still learning as it moves forward, McHale said.

“The partnerships we’re building are literally just beginning,” he said. “We’ve just scratched the surface.”

Police also just reorganized the department to better combat violent crime.

And Kuehl reported they have 7½ minute response time or less about 90 percent of the time for calls on major crime like shots fired, assaults and burglaries in progress.

Mayor Sly James praised them for all that and for solving the recent cases of the highway shooter and of a man shot to death in a gas station in an attack that severely wounded the victim’s 10-year-old son.

“There’s a positive momentum,” James said. “Just keep doing what you’re doing and speed it up.”

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