UMKC report evaluates NoVA violent crime deterrence effectiveness

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Courtesy Jackson County Prosecutor's office.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Courtesy Jackson County Prosecutor’s office.

A new report from researchers at UMKC finds focused deterrence has become an important tool in dealing with Kansas City’s “stubbornly high violent crime rate.”

“Overall, by the end of 2014, the data were indicating a significant reduction in homicides that corresponded to robust implementation of focused deterrence in Kansas City,” the report on the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (NoVA) found.

UMKC’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology published the evaluation. It noted that the program faced some challenges in its beginning, but was fully implemented by Jan. 1, 2014.

That led to a “dramatic and significant” reduction in homicides in 2014 to 80, the lowest annual Kansas City total in four decades.

NoVA is a collaboration of the Kansas City, MO, Police Department, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Mayor Sly James, Missouri Probation & Parole, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and ATF. The collaboration first developed in 2013 after the appointment of a project manager, Major Joe McHale.

The study raised some concern about a “decay effect” where reductions in crime drop off over time. It found, for example, that the reduction of violent crime was more dramatic in early 2014 than later in the year, and suggested the need to monitor and evaluate this trend.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, a member of the KC NoVA Governing Board, said homicides in the first half of 2015 were very similar to the number in the first half of 2014.

“KC NoVA is an opportunity to study outcomes, how those outcomes were achieved and then refine our efforts for greater impact,” Baker said.  “We are now evaluating the first half of 2014 against the outcomes of 2015 to determine ways to combat a decay effect.  It is a continual process of self-scrutiny.”

The prosecutor’s office noted that  Kansas City has not seen homicide spikes this year like those in other cities, including St. Louis, Milwaukee and Baltimore.


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