KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A massive reorganization of the police department is targeting violent crime in a small area of the city.
Police say violent crime is concentrated in neighborhoods that make up only about one-tenth of Kansas City. They have identified 34 square miles where most of the killings, shootings and drug dealing has been happening. The area includes Oak Park, Blue Hills and the Old Northeast, where three out of four homicides happened last year.
Police recently moved more than 40 officers to focus on crime in these neighborhoods in hopes of eliminating the violence.
The changes come in partnership with Kansas City’s No Violence Alliance, an effort by prosecutors and police to identify the social circles of career criminals.
A new law enforcement resource center uses crime analysts to try to predict who may become the next dangerous felon.
But in Blue Hills, the murder of a mother and her young daughter last year prompted community outrage, however to this day the case remains unsolved. As a result the police plan has been met with skepticism by some who say technology can’t replace personal interaction with potential bad guys.
“That was one of my philosophies to deal with the people I felt were causing the crime,” said Mark Porter, leader of 100 Men of Blue Hills. “It had to be face-to-face, a people-to-people type of thing to show concern for the community and to influence those people that would be basically troublemakers not to commit those crimes in the community.”
The 34-square-mile area where police are devoting more resources is south of the Missouri River on both sides of Bruce Watkins Drive down to 85th street.
Nearly everyone agrees that police can’t stop violence alone. Porter says improved education for kids that results in more young people securing jobs would go a long way toward deterring dangerous violence.
The new approach may be helping. So far this year, there have been only 15 homicides, eight fewer than at this same time last year.