Violence Research in Kansas City to Help Fight Crime

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As the national debate over deterring gun violence continues, a unique local consortium is on the verge of launching a new strategy for fighting violence in Kansas City.

The group of  police, prosecutors and city leaders has been researching violence in Kansas City, and they say that what they are discovering will lead to a new way of crime fighting when the KC No Violence Alliance, or "NoVA" program, finally launches.

Kansas City Missouri Police Capt. Joe McHale knows violence is an issue here, especially involving guns.

"Most of the homicides that occur in Kansas City are the result of handguns, absolutely," Capt. McHale said.  "Handguns are easily available, they're readily available."

McHale and other NoVA members know there's more to it than that, however.  They believe they  can stop the cycle of violent crimes by mapping the relationships and connections of  known violent offenders.

"We are developing models based on documented police relationships of the relationships of individuals in a social structure, and we are developing models that actually show us linkages between individuals, and can show us their propensity to be involved in violence based on their relationships," said McHale.

He calls it "forecasting" crime.

"In our pilot model, we have been very successful in forecasting where violence will occur in this city," McHale explained.

McHale says violent crimes happen for a variety of reasons, he says often times it comes down to someone feeling disrespected, a fight over another man or woman, or drugs. No matter what causes the crime, pain is often the result, and McHale hopes to be someone who helps end that pain.

Regardless of the strategy, guns will still be a part of the problem faced by McHale and the NoVA team.  According to Police Chief Darryl Forte, guns were used in 83-percent of all homicides last year. Capt. McHale says a lot of guns are sold on the black market in Kansas City - many through straw purchases, meaning people without felony records buy a gun then sell it to someone with a record off the books.

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