The Kansas City Gun Experiment and Other Public Safety Initiatives

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The Kansas City Gun Experiment was a public safety initiative that used intense police patrols to reduce the homicide rate in the target area. The program targeted an 80-block area that had a homicide rate twenty times higher than the national average. Police officers seized illegal guns through frisking individuals and during routine traffic stops. These tactics proved most effective in identifying illegal guns. During the experiment's 29-week duration, gun crimes decreased significantly in the target neighborhood. Drive-by shootings decreased from seven to one in the target area, while they increased from six to 12 in the comparison area.

NIJ Kansas City Gun Experiment

During the NIJ Kansas City Gun Experiment, police departments increased patrols in a high-crime neighborhood and saw a drop in violent crimes, including homicides and drive-by shootings. The goal of the study was to determine if an increased police presence would reduce crime and increase public safety. To this end, the experiment employed a combination of community involvement and police field training. The experiment involved the participation of community members, who were positioned as allies in preventing and solving crimes.

Police patrols in hot spots to reduce homicides

In an article published by the Justice Quarterly, researchers analyzed the impact of a Kansas City police department's patrols in hot spots. They found that crime in these areas decreased by an average of 25 percent, and the program was effective in reducing homicides. It also reduced the number of drugs found in the area. But it's not clear whether these efforts actually reduced homicides.

Number of guns seized

The Kansas City Gun Experiment, conducted by Lawrence W. Sherman and his colleagues in the Kansas City Police Department in 1995, is an example of innovative policy-making. It demonstrated that targeted police presence in areas of high gun crime could increase the number of guns seized. These police officers were three times more effective than their counterparts in regular, uniformed police work, and were able to achieve this with a minimal cost.

Effects on homicides

Although it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the impact of gun control on homicide rates, the data collected by the FBI over the past decade suggests that a disproportionate number of such crimes occur in high-poverty areas. In 2010, for example, nearly 40 percent of murder suspects were younger than 30 years old. And although the data on crime in this period is too spotty to draw definite conclusions, the Council on Criminal Justice notes that about half of all murders are "unknown."

Effects on unauthorized shootings

The effectiveness of the pulling levers strategy to reduce gun violence is demonstrated by studies that examine violent behavior in groups. In groups, the actions of any one member of the group are held accountable for the actions of the entire group. In these situations, increased police enforcement is necessary to identify group members who are "vulnerable" to gun violence, including enforcing outstanding warrants. This strategy has a variety of implications for gun violence.

August 26, 2022



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