Profile No. 20

Kansas City Gun Experiment -- Kansas City, MO

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Program to deter gun carrying in high crime hotspot areas; Office of Weed and Seed.

Program Goal:
To reduce crime by seizures of illegal guns.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Violent perpetrators carrying guns.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
80-block area of Kansas City, MO.

Evaluated by:
Department of Criminology, University of Maryland; Department of Criminal Justice,
University of Texas.

Contact Information:
Captain Mike Sola
Kansas City Police Department
1201 Walnut Street, Suite 2300
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: 816­234­5550

Years of Operation:

The Kansas City Gun Experiment used intensive police patrols directed to an 80-block hotspot area where the homicide rate was 20 times the national average. Patrol officers seized guns by frisking individuals who were arrested and by making plain view sightings of firearms during routine traffic violation or safety stops. Traffic stops were most effective in locating illegal guns, with 1 gun found per 28 stops. Gun crimes, including drive-by shootings and homicides, declined significantly during the 29-week experimental period between July 1992 and January 1993. Drive-by shootings dropped from 7 to 1 in the target area, while increasing from 6 to 12 in a comparison area. Overall gun crimes dropped 49 percent (169 to 86) and criminal homicide declined 67 percent (30 to 10) from the 29 weeks before the patrols to the 29-week experiment period. However, there was no effect on other crime indicators, including calls for police service, calls about violence, property or disorder crimes, and total offense reports within the target area. Significantly, there did not appear to be a displacement effect (i.e., gun crimes did not increase in any of the seven surrounding patrol beats).

Based on a statistical comparison with a control area, directed patrols were three times more cost effective than traditional patrols in removing firearms from the streets in hotspot areas. Active involvement of community and religious leaders in developing the program resulted in broad community support, even among those who had objected to previous police crackdowns on guns. However, the program was not institutionalized within the city budget after Federal funding ended. The program was replicated in Indianapolis between April 1995 and September 1997. Directed patrols are now used in Indianapolis as the front end of a more comprehensive Weed and Seed effort directed at reducing crime and stabilizing the community (see profile 6).

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report