Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

KC Fights Violent Crime with Carrot-Stick Program

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

KC Fights Violent Crime with Carrot-Stick Program

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY Despite decades of initiatives to stem violent crime, Kansas City residents continue killing each other at a rate five times higher than the national average, prompting officials to turn to an alternative law enforcement approach that offers incentives to convicted and would-be criminals to change their ways.

Local leaders think their newest assault on violent crime patterned after a "focused deterrence" model created in Boston in the mid-1990s and refined over the years by cities such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Los Angeles might finally change things.

"It's the first time I've felt this kind of energy when doing something like this," said Darryl Forte, Kansas City's first black police chief . "I'm confident this will have an impact."

Kansas City's effort, dubbed the "No Violence Alliance," or NoVA, was created more than a year ago, soon after Forte's promotion to chief.

Focused deterrence is a carrot-and-stick approach in which members of a criminal network even those on the fringes who haven't yet committed serious crimes are identified and sought out by police who want them to know their actions can have unintended consequences for others in their cliques.

Soon, about 80 criminals on probation or parole will be brought together in groups of 20 to meet with prosecutors and law enforcement agents who will explain the ramifications of the new program.

Those who want to pull away from criminal affiliations will be offered social services to help them. Prosecutors will be sending a strong message to the others that authorities know who they are, what they've done, and that they will be held accountable if anyone in their network commits a violent crime.

SUCCESS elsewhere

The focused deterrence approach has been successful in other cities, according to a study released last year. …

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