Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Operation Clean Sweep targets criminal networks as part of KC NoVA


Kansas City Police conducted a large enforcement effort focusing on individuals who are central components of large-scale criminal networks as part of the first high-visibility operation of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA.)

Police arrested a total of 17 people, including suspects in multiple homicide investigations. Because investigation is ongoing, police cannot release which cases those are at this time, but they will be working with prosecutors to charge those cases and notify the public of the arrests in coming days. Forty-nine warrants were cleared by the arrests and 15 new charges brought, which could increase as detectives further work cases. Officers also recovered 4.5 grams of cocaine, 224 grams of marijuana and 200 pills.

KC NoVA launched in May 2012 and is a focused effort to deter violent crime. Since its launch, police, prosecutors, Probation and Parole and others have worked to identify those most likely to commit violent crime. They have mapped and analyzed relationships among criminals using intelligence gathered from numerous sources. A KCPD captain, sergeant and four detectives now are assigned full time to KC NoVA.

The network that was the focus of Operation Clean Sweep features about 360 individuals, including homicide suspects, 60+ people on probation or parole, known drug dealers, prostitutes, and juveniles. The Operation was centered on the group’s area of influence in the Old Northeast community of Kansas City.

Operation Clean Sweep is different than previous enforcement initiatives. Those initiatives focused on geographic hot spot areas, whereas this one focused on individuals central to Kansas City’s criminal activity.

KC NoVA is working to arrest and vigorously prosecute those at the center of these criminal networks. Those on the periphery of these networks will be offered services to help prevent them from becoming involved in more serious crime. KC NoVA has hired a master social worker to guide these individuals toward job and life skills training, transportation assistance and more. KC NoVA also will be working with faith-based and community organizations to help steer these individuals away from crime and to rebuild safer neighborhoods.

Researchers with the University of Missouri-Kansas City will evaluate KC NoVA to determine its effectiveness.

Focused deterrence efforts like KC NoVA have reduced violent crime by 30 percent in Cincinnati and Boston. Kansas City had 108 homicides in 2012. KC NoVA’s goal is to reduce that to 80 homicides per annum within two years.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Change of rape definition will increase reports, encompass more victims

The year 2013 will bring a large increase in the number of reported rapes in Kansas City. This is not because more rapes will take place. It’s because the FBI has made a much-needed change to its Uniform Crime Reporting system that changes the definition of what rape is, rightfully encompassing many more victims of sexual assault.

Since 1927, the FBI has defined “forcible rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” The U.S. Department of Justice blog called this definition “outdated and narrow,” and we agree. It left no room for male victims or victims of sodomy. Our police department investigated these cases, but they never were included in the official rape statistics.

The new FBI definition of rape is: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

All crimes that fall under the above definition began being counted as rape in Kansas City and throughout the nation on Jan. 1, 2013. So when this year comes to an end, and we compare its crime statistics to 2012, it likely will appear as though rapes increased drastically. While we can’t predict how many crimes will be committed, I want you to be aware that it is extremely unlikely rapes will double, as the numbers could appear.

Consider what it would look like if we had used the new rape definition in 2012. Through mid-November 2012 (we’re still finalizing more recent stats), Kansas City had 243 rapes according to the old rape definition. But under the new definition, the city had 558. The new definition simply includes all victims of sexual assault, as it should, and gives us a more accurate view of the extent of the crime in Kansas City. This will not change the the thorough manner in which we investigate any of these cases, just the way we report them.

The Justice Department blog also notes some other important changes the new definition creates:

"For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

"Furthermore, because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with individual state statutes. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent."

We want you to be aware of these changes now so panic doesn’t arise this time next year when the numbers look much higher. We are pleased with the inclusivity of the new definition and all those who worked toward changing it, including victim advocates and several organizations of which I’m a member, like the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs and Police Executive Research Forum. It was high time we recognized all victims of this heinous crime.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

108 homicides in 2012 and looking toward less violence in 2013

Kansas City wrapped up 2012 with a homicide rate that fortunately was less than the year before but pretty in line with the last decade or so. A total of 108 people were killed here last year, compared to 114 in 2011, 106 in 2010, 110 in 2009 and 126 in 2008. Each of those 108 victims represents loved ones who are grieving and communities that are hurting. I wanted to explain a little about who these victims were and what we’re planning to do to stop others from becoming victims of violent crime.

The youngest homicide victim in 2012 was 5-month-old Zavion Dunmore, who died from trauma sustained in child abuse on March 13. Keith L. Nelson, 43, has been charged with second-degree murder in his death. The oldest victim was 62-year-old Donna Pike, killed along with her son and a handyman at their home at 39th and Paseo on Jan. 16 of last year. Anthony W. Walker, 46, has been charged with three counts each of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary in their slayings.

Guns continued to be the city’s leading instruments of homicide, used in 83 percent of 2012’s murders. Anger management also continues to be a major problem, with arguments cited as the motive in 22 slayings. Domestic violence and robberies were the cause of eight killings each, and four we know were drug-related.

Black males comprised two thirds of the City’s victims as well as about 69 percent of known suspects. The age group with the highest number of slayings was 17 to 24. You can see a full summary of 2012 homicides on our web site.

We are doing several things to combat this violence. I have great hope in what the Kansas City No Violence Alliance can accomplish, which I blogged about here last month. This will bring many pieces of the criminal justice system together to target the offenders who are responsible for the majority of Kansas City’s violent crime. KC NoVA has the potential to substantially drop our homicide statistics. Hot spot policing also has become a way we do business. Focusing on these violent crime hot spots is paying off. As I also blogged last month,just 40 percent of the City’s homicides now occur in these neighborhoods, as opposed to the 52 percent that occurred there in 2011. And this year’s overall lower homicide rate would indicate that crime isn’t getting displaced elsewhere.

As always, our greatest crime-fighting tool is you, the residents of Kansas City. Building relationships and trust between the police and the community has been one of my top priorities since I was appointed Chief, and it will continue to be so in 2013.

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