James on Crime Crackdown: Straighten Up, or We’re “Gonna Throw Your Butt in Jail”

Mayor Sly James

Mayor Sly James

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Police Chief Daryl Forte conceded Wednesday violence in the city “is out of control”.
The admission came at a news conference where law enforcement officials announced the results of its first sweep against hardened violent criminals in a new program called the “No Violence Alliance (NoVA).
It was announced on the same day when Kansas City police were dealing with a rash of homicides on a single day.
Tuesday, police say they made a series of arrests against a “network”, of violent crime suspects. It was the first raid under the NoVa program which was started last year. Its aim is to go after the city’s toughest criminals.
The NoVa program also offers people involved in crime an opportunity to get education, training or whatever they need to change their lifestyle. The tone, however, was a harsh one.
“We’ve had enough. We’re calling you out,” declared the Mayor, “and if you don’t, redeem yourself, we’re going to put your butt in jail”.
James conceded violence was one of the biggest issues facing the city.
He said the NoVA program is the start of what he called “waging a long, long war against violent crime.”
The NoVa program is modeled after other crackdowns on crime in Boston and Cincinnati. The get-tough-on criminals approached in combined with computer analysis of the high crime areas of the city and an examination of the people police believe are most often involved.
Authorities call this a different approach to the problem in Kansas City.
Another part of the change will be a shift in the focus of the Jackson County COMBAT program.
The COMBAT project was started to deal with the drug problem facing the city and county in the 1990’s. It has been successful. Now COMBAT’s focus will shift toward violent crime.
“We need witnesses,” pleaded Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker,”we need people to talk to the police” about crime.
Chief Forte, however, said the street code of “no snitching” is not a major problem. The Chief conceded that when people talk, investigators sometimes don’t get enough information to file charges.
The NoVA program will combine local county state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors in an effort to reduce violent crime.
Chief Forte and others cautions the program will not bring quick results.
“This is not a get-rich quick scheme. This won’t happen overnight,” the Chief said.

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