As Nation Debates Guns, KC has its Own Plan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Obama’s executive order includes 23 directives for local government and police to do more to tackle the issue of gun violence, things like developing emergency plans, active shooter training for law enforcement, and programs to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. The President said communities have to act or nothing will change.
Kansas City leaders agree and have been moving forward with their own plans for change, a program called Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA.
“Congress and Washington DC, they can try some new measures but here I know what we can do locally,” says Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
KC NoVA brings together law enforcement, prosecutors, probation and parole, juvenile justice system, city leaders and academics with an end goal to reduce violence. Mass killings in movie theaters and elementary schools shock the nation but Kansas City had 108 homicides last year.
“Every act of violence has an impact, a negative impact on this community,” Peters Baker says, “it tears at the whole fabric of our city.”
KC NoVA focuses on aggressively prosecuting violent offenders and it also targets low level criminals, providing them access to social services, case managers who provide life skills and job training to help them leave the life of crime.
“That’s what NoVA is about, it’s about interrupting violence and deterring people out of a life of crime so violent crime doesn’t’ happen,” says Peters Baker.
As law makers continue to fight over gun control and gun laws, Peters Baker says there is no easy answer.
“Certainly the more tools I have as a prosecutor, I’m going to use them,” she said, “so if I have strong gun laws, I would use them to make my city safer.”
Police Chief Darryl Forte says similar programs have worked in other cities, for example in Cincinnati where homicides decreased by 47-percent.