KC May Adopt Cincinnati’s “Focused Deterrence” Anticrime Strategy


A sliver of Kansas City's population is responsible for the majority of shootings and homicides, police officials say. That sliver of people — and all of their friends — could start getting a heap of law enforcement attention if police and prosecutors adopt a new violence reduction plan from Cincinnati, reports the Kansas City Star. “We're looking for a sustainable program that we can do for the long haul,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. The Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence — or CIRV — aims enforcement at the city's worst offenders by focusing on their entire social groups, whether they be gangs or neighborhood cliques. If one member commits a violent crime, police put everyone in the group under a microscope.

The effort, which uses peer pressure to try to change street culture, lowered group or gang-related homicides 41 percent and gun violence incidents 22 percent, said Robin Engel, a University of Cincinnati associate professor who worked on the project. It's the only crime-fighting strategy that has proved and consistent effects over time, said Engel. About 70 other cities in the U.S., including Boston, Indianapolis, and High Point, N.C., use similar programs, known as “focused deterrence.” Engel said her research shows cities share some characteristics. Most shootings are sparked by acts of perceived disrespect, not drug deals or ripoffs. For people without jobs, school or plans for the future, respect is often all they have. “If you want to reduce violence associated with disrespect, you have to understand their peer networks and change the relationships so they're encouraging less violence,” Engel said.

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