Partnering With the Community
To reduce violent crime and improve prosecution of crimes, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office has launched the Neighborhood Prosecution Program. In this new initiative, the prosecutor’s office works closely with police and community members, focusing resources on the criminals doing the most harm in the community.
Starting the Program
Each team of prosecutors, with the assistance of community organizations and the police, canvassed the neighborhood, going door-to-door and talking to residents and business owners about ways to keep the community safe. Team members handed out flyers about the new effort, and information on the neighborhood was collected.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Janette Rodecap (now Judge Janette Rodecap)
"Our office is really exciting about the strong community support," said Alissia Canady, the prosecutor's neighborhood prosecution coordinator. "We had the privilege of talking to several home owners and renters in the area that welcome this new partnership and are eager to help keep their neighborhood safe by being our eyes and ears."
Talking to Citizens
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said that walking these neighborhoods has not only reacquainted her office with their unique issues and challenges but also reminded the office of how many good citizens remain there and how much they must struggle to deal with crime in their own neighborhoods.
“For the last year, I’ve made neighborhood prosecution one of the key focuses of my office,” Baker said. “Law enforcement in Kansas City can only improve if it is a better partner with the community.”
A total of 10 neighborhood prosecution teams have canvassed Jackson County, starting with the 1st launch at 27th and Prospect Avenue in October 2011. The following areas have been visited by neighborhood prosecution teams:
27th and Prospect Avenue
Blue Hills (in the mid-50s from Prospect Avenue to Euclid)
Center City (in the area of Armour and Troost Avenue)
Independence Avenue East (2 teams canvassed the area; the 1st team was at Benton to Jackson along Independence Avenue and the 2nd team was at Thompson to 8th Street)
Independence Avenue West (between Prospect and Paseo)
St. John Avenue and 9th Street
The Central High area (Linwood to 39th Street, Monroe to Agnes)
The Ruskin area
Town Fork Creek (the 50s between Prospect and Cleveland)
Westside (Holly to Southwest Boulevard, 20th to 25th)
“Long-term, our goal is to become better partners with the community,” Baker said. Here are some examples of the impact of new neighborhood prosecution teams in 2012:
27th Prospect - The initiative addressed open air drug sales by closing a high traffic drug house at 26th Wabash and monitoring The Green Duck Lounge.
Armour/Troost - Prosecutors have empowered the community by encouraging communication between residents and Central patrol officers to proactively address loitering, drug sales and domestic violence issues near the Bainbridge apartments.
Independence Avenue - Established an ongoing relationship with Pendleton Heights to identify violent offenders within the community and to address those individuals. Several persons of interest have been arrested and charged with felony cases ranging from burglary to unlawful use of a weapon.
West Side - One of the suspected gang affiliated neighborhood targets is successfully engaged in a pilot, education based diversion program with the Jackson County Prosecutors Office. Since February, the young man has completed his GED, enrolled in trade school and notably avoided a recent gang rival altercation involving his peers.