Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Neighborhood Prosecution Teams

I’ve been writing about our hot spot policing practices for a while now, and it’s time I thank one of our big partners in it: The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office Neighborhood Prosecution Project. Two prosecution teams are in place now – one in the area of 27th and Prospect and one along Independence Avenue.

The teams are composed of at least two assistant prosecutors and an investigator. They’re doing what I’ve also encouraged KCPD officers to do: get to know the residents and business people of the neighborhoods where they work. The Neighborhood Prosecution Teams have gone door to door in the areas they’re serving passing out fliers about what they’re doing and making contacts. They’re also visiting businesses, neighborhood associations and business associations. They’re letting the community know they’re available and getting to know the areas and people that are problematic.

We’ve also appreciated how closely they’ve worked with KCPD. In fact, some of the areas they serve overlap with parts of our hot spots. They keep in close contact with police assigned to those sectors. They’re prosecuting cases that might otherwise fall through the cracks at the state and municipal level. They’re also helping us deal with nuisance businesses and properties that are havens of criminal activity. A good example of this was the closing of the Green Duck Club in early November. The neighborhood prosecutors worked closely with police to build a case against the club, which is where a homicide and other violence took place in 2011 and where there were dozens of police calls for service and complaints of drug activity.

I really appreciate the resources Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has devoted to the Neighborhood Prosecution Project. These assistant prosecutors are taking on these cases in addition to their regular workload, but they realize how important it is to stop crime where it happens most. They also realize that police need the support of their partners in the criminal justice system and the members of the community to make Kansas City safer.

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