KCK cops’ strategy cracks down on small offenses to prevent major crimes

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- KCK's police chief says crime has been cut in half in one neighborhood since officers launched a new crime-fighting strategy.

“It’s logical: Bad guys don’t want to be where the police are at,” KCK Police Chief Terry Zeigler said as he explained the idea behind his department’s ICON initiative,  which stands for Impacting Crime in Our Neighborhoods.

At a time when police nationally, are conducting fewer traffic stops and pedestrian checks for fear of being accused of harassment or racial profiling, KCK officers are doing just the opposite, and getting some dramatic results.

Zeigler said by using focused patrol units, on a rotating schedule, to regularly enforce minor traffic violations, the police can often prevent larger, more violent crimes.

The police chief said the strategy will move to two different neighborhoods each month, based on where crime statistics tell police they need to be.

Zeigler shared what his officers described after a recent traffic stop.

“There was a mask in the back and a gun in the back. We believe we thwarted a robbery,” Zeigler said. “Can we prove that? No, because we didn’t charge him with that. There was a warrant arrest, but when you’ve got masks and guns in the car, you can assume they were going to do something. They were up to no good.”

“Violent crimes and property crimes have dropped 50% in Armourdale & 15% in Midtown District. 442 since we started our ICON initiative,” Zeigler tweeted recently.

The ICON initiative echoes many aspects of the “the broken windows theory” toward crime reduction, made famous by the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.

The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes, such as vandalism and public drinking, help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.

In his book, Gladwell argues that, by employing “the broken windows theory” in New York City in the 1980s, leaders in the Big Apple were able to reverse a decades-long increase of violent crime and fear among law-abiding tourists and residents.

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