Kansas City, Kansas

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Kansas City, Kansas

BCJI Funding Year: FY2020

BCJI Awardee: Kansas City, Kansas Police Department

Focus Area: Kansas City, Kansas - Population 148,483

Challenges: Gun-Related Homicides, Gun Violence

Neighborhood Characteristics

The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department (KCKPD) serves a population of 148,483, which is 42.2 percent White, 26.8 percent African American, and 27.8 percent Hispanic. The per capita income is $18,574, which is far less than the state average of $26,929. Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) also has a poverty rate of 25 percent compared to the state average of 13.7 percent.

The target area includes several ZIP codes in KCK: 66101, 66102, and portions of 66104 and 66105. Like many US cities, the development pattern in KCK combined with the redlining of neighborhoods left hollowed-out communities near the City’s core. These areas have seen significant blight and reduced property values. Recent efforts by the Unified Government (UG) have made significant inroads in addressing blight and spurring re-investment in neighborhoods.

The Stabilization, Occupation, and Reinvestment (SOAR) Initiative has brought new focus to blight remediation. The City has demolished dangerous buildings and initiated an innovative land bank rehabilitation program that has renovated dozens of homes that were slated for demolition and resold them as habitable properties. As a result, property values in these neighborhoods have begun to climb. However, this progress is tenuous, and the threat of neighborhood gun violence hinders this renewal.

On July 1, 2017, the KCKPD launched a new program to fight crime. Project Addressing Crime Together (ACT) uses data to approach crime and traffic safety using an evidence-based policing model called Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS). DDACTS is designed to alter the behavior of individuals in high-crime and high-crash areas by increasing police visibility and having positive citizen interactions. The project is being conducted in a 1.2-square mile area that has shown to have the highest crime, crash, and traffic violation-related hot spots. In October 2019, the level of violent crime in this small geographical area amounted to 22 percent of all violent crime in the entire UG of Wyandotte County and KCK jurisdiction. For individuals ages 15-44 in Wyandotte County, homicide is the leading cause of death, and the vast majority of those homicides involve gun violence.

Planning Phase

The goal of this program is to restore public safety to KCK neighborhoods experiencing high levels of gun violence through a coordinated, multi-agency, community-based response. This vision will be achieved through a two-phase process: 1) Action Plan development during the Planning Phase and 2) implementation.

To support the Planning Phase, the UG has made an investment to collaboratively develop a community violence dashboard on the mySidewalk platform, which will allow partners to share information and tell the story of how violence is being address by the grant.

The Planning Phase will be facilitated by the Office of the County Administrator and led by a multi-agency steering committee. The steering committee will hold a two-day planning workshop at the program outset and will meet biweekly for the first six months of the Planning Phase and monthly thereafter. Resources for the Planning Phase include the following:

  • a KCKPD data analyst 
  • a health department or Kansas University Medical Center epidemiologist 
  • UG Chief Knowledge Officer and Assistant County Administrator 
  • External stakeholders from the Community Health Improvement Plan
  • Representation from the Office of the U.S. Attorney
  • Community outreach and convening experts, utilizing Americorps/VISTA to provide capacity for managing and executing a robust engagement strategy

The Implementation Phase will likely include four components:

  1. Enforcement and positive citizen contacts;
  2. Technology, including cameras and license plate readers;
  3. Epidemiology to analyze gun violence as a public health issue; and
  4. Community engagement.

Other Key Partners

VISTA, Police Athletic League, Central Avenue Betterment Association, Wyandotte Countians Against Crime, Office of the County Administrator, Unified Government Department of Public Health

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues. 

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