Coming off a historically low homicide total in 2014, leaders of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) were optimistic about what 2015 would bring. Instead, the city has seen a significant upward tick in killings, reports the Kansas City Star. Last year, with 81 homicides, Kansas City recorded its lowest total since 1972. But with 106 killings so far in 2015, the city has tied its second highest total in five years. NoVA leaders said they are committed to their goal of reducing violent crime and homicide. The group uses what is called focused deterrence. It identifies and targets the small subset of individuals and groups responsible for the majority of violence in the city. A breakdown of this year's killings shows that the percentage of homicides committed by those groups is down from 2013.
While NoVA can affect those groups, it is not a cure-all to what Mayor Sly James called the homicide disease. Underlying issues such as poverty, lack of employment and education and the ready availability of guns are societal issues that must be addressed, he said. “There are too many factors beyond NoVA's control,” the mayor said. NoVA plans to expand training for patrol officers so they can spread the no-violence message. Another initiative planned for 2016 is a tweak of the “call-in” component of NoVA. Periodically, individuals identified as key members of criminal groups are invited to meet with NoVA leaders to hear the message that violence will no longer be tolerated. They are encouraged to seek social services so they can escape the criminal lifestyle. Maj. Joe McHale, who has been project manager for KC NoVA, said people who have declined those invitations in the past will be visited at their homes to be given the same message. Those personal visits let them know that police know who they are and if they commit crimes there is a “certainty that they will be caught,” he said.