“New day in KC” – teaming up against criminal networks

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson recently announced they’ll work together to target criminal networks. Dickinson now says her office is stretching resources to fight crime despite federal budget cuts.

The U.S. attorney’s office is committed to working with the Kansas City police, Jackson County prosecutors and others in an alliance against city criminals, U.S. attorney Tammy Dickinson said Wednesday.

She told the city council public safety committee that her staff will continue to stretch resources to fight city street crime in spite of cuts from the federal government sequester.

Her office for the western district of Missouri covers 66 counties and all 166 employees will have to take 14-day furloughs by Sept. 30, she said.

“Criminals don’t know furloughs, criminals don’t know budget cuts and they don’t stop,” she said. “We’re just going to have to tighten our belts and it’s not going to be without pain.”

But they will still work with the No Violence Alliance, a joint effort that includes police, Jackson County prosecutors, state probation and parole and researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

They use police intelligence and computer targeting to identify networks of criminals and move against them. The goal is to dramatically cut the number of homicides.

The FBI, DEA and ATF are also on board, Dickinson said, and she has never seen such support among all involved.

“Hold on and see where it takes us,” she said.

The alliance announced its first major bust in January with 17 arrests among a criminal network involving about 360 people. More arrests are coming, she said, and her office will be involved.

“I’d say we’re the stick in all of this,” she said. They can file federal charges against repeat offenders that will get them 15 years in prison without parole.

“They fear the federal system,” she said. “It’s not a question if you get time in the federal system, it’s how much.”

Dickinson, who was an assistant Jackson County prosecutor for 15 years, said she knows what violence can do to a city.

“It’s a quality of life thing for us and we’re not going to sit by on 9th street and watch it go by,” she said.

Councilmembers thanked and praised her.

Councilman Michael Brooks said, “The word is getting out on the street – it’s a new day in Kansas City.”

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