NOVA Stumbles at Start, But Improves

A new report says Kansas City, Missouri’s ‘ No Violence Alliance (NOVA) stumbled in its first year, but has steadied itself and is now working.

That report was the work Prof. Andrew M. Fox; Kenneth J. Novak; and Majid Buni Yaghoub of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Justice and Criminology.

The report says a combination of local police and prosecutors, teaming up with federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies tried to attack the city’s “stubbornly high violent crime rates”.

The report says between 2010 and 2014, Kansas City, Missouri averaged about 22 homicides per 1,000 residents.

The alliance came up with the concept of “focused deterrence” .

That is their description of plan to target some of the city’s hardened, repeat, criminals who investigators thought were responsible for many of the murders and violent gun-related assaults.

NOVA, however, got off to a slow start, according to the report;

“For several reasons, early implementation was uneven and faced numerous challenges,” the report states.

A key leadership group, ,the ‘ Interagency Enforcement Group ‘ was not authorized early and “was missing in action for all of 2013”, according to the report.

In March 2014, Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Daryl Forte made a major shift in the command structure of the police force in order to implement the NOVA program goals.

Authors Fox and Novak says it was not until 2014 that NOVA started showing signs of progress.

In the first month of the year, there was a drop in the number of homicides reported in Kansas City, Missouri.

The drops continued for several months. Eventually it slowed in the second half of the year.

Fox said the steady drop in homicides in the first half of 2014 indicates the NOVA forces and its tactics were working.

In the second part of the 2014, however, that pace slowed down.

“Maybe the street is learning”, said Fox. He says NOVA has to continue to innovate to stay ahead of the criminals.

Lately NOVA has been taking it’s warnings to hardened criminals in prison who are about to be released.

They have also stepped up their warning to Kansas City, Missouri teenagers.

The report comes out just a few weeks after representatives of St. Louis started considering to try a NOVA-style program in that city.

“There is strong evidence NOVA is portable,’ said Prof. Ken Novak, a co-author, “but it will be a little different in every different city.”

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