NOVA Stumbles at Start, But Improves
August 25, 2015

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.”

No Restriction to Stage where Protester Rushed Mayor James
March 20, 2013

There was no restriction from the seating area to the G Theater stage when Mayor Sly James spoke Tuesday. This is is from a few minutes before the event

There was no restriction on access from the Gem Theater audience seating area stage to the stage Tuesday when protester Derron Black rushed the stage and interrupted Mayor Sly James’ ‘State of the City’ speech.

Kansas City Police Chief Daryl Forte acknowledged that in an interview with KMBC Wednesday.

“That’s a good point,” Forte said after being asked if that could have blocked the protester in any way..

“It could, I don’t know,” he added, “If you got a guy that angry, I don’t know. It may give you a little more time to react. It’s a good question.”

At many political events, especially ones involving the President and for presidential candidates, access from the audience to the stage is eliminated.

Forte says at the time Black rushed the stage, some officers also assigned to the event were “distracted”, according to the Chief.

Officers were looking for another person inside the building they thought may have also posed a problem for them. He did not elaborate.

Forte says, in some cases, at some events, the department may add more officers to the Mayoral detail. The Police Department determines security, not the Mayor’s office.

“I’m not a security guy,” said Mayor James Wednesday agreeing with the practice, “they’re the experts”.

At a Wednesday event in the 18th & Vine District, the same area as the Tuesday incident, Mayor James spoke from a riser a couple of feet off the floor. The only access to the riser was a single set of steps at the back.

The same security detail that escorted Mayor James Tuesday was back on duty Wednesday.

Meanwhile, protester Derron Black was released from police custody.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says he faces two misdemeanor charges, assaulting a police officer and disrupting government operations; in this case the Mayor’s official speech.

Black also postponed a news conference where he was expected to announce he is running for Mayor. It is rescheduled for Thursday.

In an interview on KMBZ radio, Black called his rush to the stage a spur-of-the-moment “outburst”.

“We’re talking about systematic oppression that is continuing in our community. So I’m trying to figure out a way of addressing these things,” he said of his plan to challenge Mayor James during the radio interview.

He also used the interview to apologize for “embarrassing my city”.

Mayor Protester Released from Jail, Postpones Political News Conference
March 20, 2013

Derron Black, the man who rushed the stage during JC Mayor Sly James’ State of the City speech has postponed a news conference he was expected to have.
A friend says “he’s tired, he’ll come back tomorrow.
Black may announce he’ll challenge Mayor James for re-election.
Black was a candidate for a Missouri House seat in 2012.
He campaigned on a platform of trying help low income Kansas Citians and better police protection from crime.
Black is facing two counts of assaulting police officers during the incident where rushed the stage where Mayor James was speaking Tuesday.
Also today, Police Chief Daryl Forte says some officers in the Gem Theatre for the Mayor’s speech were trying find another person in the room as Black rushed the state.
Forte said the officers were concerned about that second person, that is why they were looking for him at the Mayor’s speech.
Forte would not go into detail about that incident.
The Police Department, not the Mayor’s office,dictates the level of security for the mayor.
This morning, the Mayor made a public appearance at the Negro League Museum, right across the street from the Gem Theater where the incident Tuesday occurred.
Mayor James entered from a side or rear door, not the building’s main entrance .
He had his normal security detail, with no additional officers as part of it.
There was,however , other officers at the event. They were not a formal part of the mayor security team.
Mayor James say it will be the Police that will decide if changes are made in his protection.

James on Crime Crackdown: Straighten Up, or We’re “Gonna Throw Your Butt in Jail”
January 31, 2013

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.