September 16, 2013
Kansas City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster’s four-day Urban Crime Summit began today in Kansas City. In their opening remarks, Koster, Mayor Sly James, and Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte highlighted the importance of examining various policies used in cities across the nation, to determine concrete responses in to the high per-capita violent crime rates in Missouri’s two largest cities.
“We are not afraid of honest discussion of controversial topics. We are not afraid of new approaches that will break old paradigms,” said Koster. “We are only afraid of the cost of complacency in the face of this violence, and of the lost lives and broken families that our inaction will bring.”
"Violent crime affects the entire city,” said James. “If Kansas City is known to have a high violent crime rate, then that impacts our ability to attract businesses, visitors, and new residents. Just because someone lives on Ward Parkway, doesn’t mean that they are completely immune to violent crime east of Troost Avenue. Crime is more mobile than some people think because it’s affects our reputation as a safe city to live, work, and play, whether we realize it or not."
Forte' highlighted the importance of connection with community members, explaining that high profile violent crime undermines perceptions of safety, making effective policing more difficult. He stressed that personal interaction and encouragement can save a young adult from engaging in criminal activity. Forte' called on members of the audience to return on Tuesday, and reach out to bring one additional person with them.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly outlined the policing practices that have led to that city’s dramatic decline in violent crime over the past two decades, even while experiencing a decline in the number of officers. Kelly highlighted the importance of proactive, rather than reactive, policing by using advanced technology and statistics.
Operation Impact is New York City’s hot-spot policing program, where officers are deployed based upon data revealing where criminal activity is concentrated within the city. “Numbers are our best weapon,” said Kelly when describing the importance of New York City’s real-time and trend data on efforts to reduce criminal activity.
Analysis of New York City’s crime data, Kelly said, revealed the importance of specifically targeting domestic violence, which comprised a significant portion of violent assaults and homicides. Kelly noted that as a result of the city’s increased targeting of domestic violence, murder rates declined by 25%. Kelly also emphasized the importance of a police force that reflects the diversity of the city.
Kelly endorsed New York City’s stop-question-and-frisk policy as a “potentially life saving tactic,” arguing that some crimes are inevitably interrupted by officers employing reasonable suspicion when stopping individuals or groups. Kelly said he disagreed with a recent federal court ruling finding the policy unconstitutional, which the city has appealed. Professor Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri – St. Louis will address some of the criticisms of stop-question-and-frisk at the Urban Crime Summit on Wednesday in St. Louis.
Grain Valley Police Deputy Chief David Starbuck, President of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, outlined the challenge of gang activity as a nexus for violent crime. Starbuck called for efforts to increase awareness, attention, and intelligence sharing among schools and law enforcement agencies. He stated that keeping young adults from entering gangs often requires one-on-one, rather than group, intervention.
The final speakers of the first day of the Summit were Dr. Cynthia Lum and Dr. Christopher Koper of George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. Dr. Lum called for “fundamental long-term changes in policing,” and a commitment from police agencies to the use of scientific processes and crime analysis. Evidence-based approaches are more than simply information on crime rates and trends, Lum said; they also allow police agencies to understand how their specific interventions influence crime data.
Lum stated that policing is most effective when it is proactive, tailored to specific criminal activity, and directed to specific crime hot-spots. Lum and Koper’s research suggests that most of a city’s violent criminal activity is often concentrated in 5% of its land-area, providing “a powerful statement for hot-spot policing,” said Lum. Koper called for strategies focused on high-risk places and high-risk groups, and policing that addresses causes to prevent crime it before it occurs.
Koster said the panel would take the testimony gathered during the Summit and publish a detailed report of recommendations for Missouri’s law enforcement community, policy makers, and legislative leaders in early December. The final Kansas City session of the Urban Crime Summit begins tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in the Pierson Auditorium at UMKC’s Atterbury Student Success Center. The meeting is free and open to the public, with metered parking available in the Cherry Street Parking Garage. A detailed agenda is available at http://ago.mo.gov/UrbanCrimeSummit/UrbanCrimeSummit-AgendaKC.htm