Kansas City Gun Experiment, and Further Reading Term Paper

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¶ … Kansas City Gun Experiment, and further reading on the subject a developed essay answering many questions can be developed. "The Kansas City Gun Experiment in 1992-1993 used intensive police patrols directed to an 80-block hotspot area where the homicide rate was 20 times the national average. It represented a unique approach to crime prevention through preventive patrol." The following statement by one expert demonstrates the broad idea of the experiment as both effective and ineffective, lending to the idea of the need for further analysis.

There is some evidence that aggressive law enforcement can reduce gun-related crime, at least in certain areas and for certain periods of time. Beginning in July 1992, Kansas City led a 29-week experimental crackdown on gun violence. Police intensively patrolled high-crime areas and seized illegally carried guns through plain-view sightings, frisks, and traffic stops. An evaluation of the crackdown indicated a drop in gun crime within the target area, while such crimes did not decrease in a similar non-target area. (Brezina & Wright, 2000, p. 82)

Within this analysis the essay question to be answered will precede the essay, and the above quotation will be fully discussed as the questions are answered, namely that gun crime dropped in one are but not in the control area.

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1. Is this approach different from traditional patrol? If so how? If not, how is it similar? What did patrol officers in this experiment do that was different from what basic patrol officers do? What was the relationship between the officers in this experiment and other patrol officers?

TOPIC: Term Paper on Kansas City Gun Experiment, and Further Reading Assignment

The Kansas City Gun Experiment is different from traditional police patrol in that it demonstrates the utilization of both police experience with increased violent incidence in a certain area and the application of crime statistics to focus intensely on a problem area, where traditional patrol generally demonstrates the utilization of rather random coverage, attempting to be blanket coverage, where law enforcement in the patrol field are required to respond to suspicious behavior as well as calls for assistance by formal means continuously as they work. In other words, officers on patrol are generally responsible for intense levels of multitasking and prioritizing that can potentially cause them to miss important issues and/or problems in one situation, while attempting to respond to a more pressing problem associated with the area of their geographic patrol. While in the KCGE officers had a particular emphasis, unencumbered by call time, which was to reduce the number of guns on the street, potentially resulting in long-term reduction in gun related crime.

The concept of prevention would also seem to be greater in the KCGE as officers on patrol were not responding to as many acts of crime in progress or having just been committed but were rather focusing on the preventative reduction of guns on the street. Patrol officers and those on intensive patrols were in communication, and some sense of referral was associated with the intensive service, though the patrol not answering calls (the intensive patrol officers) were accountable to supervisory approval for activities involving seizure of guns. Though the intensive patrol officers were not required to answer calls the communication between those on standard patrol and intensive patrol was still in place creating the ability of the standard patrol officer (answering calls) to refer information to those on intensive patrol and vice versa, so standard patrol officers, when available could assist with seizures and arrests.

2. This experiment was a one-time special project. Could this approach be integrated into a police department on a permanent basis? What problems would you anticipate? How could those problems be overcome through careful planning and administration?

There are many examples of this type of one time special project being implemented as a permanent function of the police force, these include such programs and "drug free" zones where specified officers are relegated to both street and car patrol during specific times to respond only to violations of the set of laws regarding the "drug free zone," which in most communities is a zone that rotates through troubled areas of the local community on an annual or semi-annual basis. Other "crack down" patrols such as when a certain geographic area is reporting a significant increase in vagrancy and crime are also a tactic of many evolving police forces and they are often in response to specific public concern issues, such as prostitution, drug street crime, vagrancy, abusive or aggressive panhandling ect. Careful planning and administration are essential to make such operations safe and effective, as civil rights must be adhered to and the public must feel protected rather than harassed, see question 4. Additionally, a system like this must be roving and flexible to some degree so crime displacement is less likely to occur. On the issue of gun control, the major trend seems to be more associated with the sweeping legislative and legal implementation of gun control laws and special prosecution issues, rather than gun seizure, which seems to be relegated as usual to one of a spider web of responsibility issues with regard to traditional patrol job description, with many agencies preferring to produce very well rounded patrol officers, with the skills to multitask and prioritize the crimes of the region.

3. Could the tactics used in Kansas City work in the environment of today? Are there any police strategies in use today that uses the tactics, either in total or in part that were used in Kansas City? Could they be successful? Define success as you envision it.

The ability of an individual force to implement such a system on a permanent basis is possible in today's environment and might even be essential as technology changes the face of crime, requiring specialized teams in special operations to conduct sting operations and the like, for gun control and other issues. This is only true though if careful consideration is taken to make sure that other issues are not neglected and that such a system is roving (such as the drug free zones) so crime displacement is less likely to occur. Planning to make sure that individual officers are rotated through such interests, as specialized preventative plans is also import to ensure that the sub-systemization of the force does not separate individuals by making them ineffective in one or another area. Another issue that needs some attention in this case is that law enforcement and political entities which make demands on them need to be cautious to evaluate real problems, versus perceived problems, i.e. If gun violence is not the most pressing issue with regard to the need to allocate limited resources then it should not be where the resources go, despite public demand. The policing of a city region or nation, cannot and should not be driven entirely by politics and/or public demand. Real statistical analysis and real experience based understanding of the particulars of crime in any given area must be undertaken to determine the allocation of resources and if this issue is different than the particular "hot button" topic of the day it should be well noted by agency heads and politicians alike, tactfully of coarse.

Success would be defined as a reduction of specific and overall crime problems in the given geographical area and potentially in a broader area, especially if operations are roving and/or the tools used by traditional patrol divisions are shared with those on special patrol and vice-versa. Though the KCGE resulted in a reduction in gun crime in the specific target area it did not seem to deter crime in other areas, though it did not seem to result in redistribution of crime either. Creating a cooperative system with media would also benefit the situation, not in that all information should be shared and used as a tool to heighten the dramatic of the situation, but that people should be aware of the special circumstances and therefore the specific intent of the special operations, so they will more likely appreciate rather than be frightened by the potential of the situation. Though the system must be careful as the tendency of criminals to simply leave there guns at home would have increased, and seizures would have been reduced, some indication of this is present in the second implementation of the program in the KCGE as the extreme numbers of seizures and reduction in gun crime reports was not seen so readily in the second implementation as it was in the first. Some would argue that though the guns where still there, they were not on the streets and therefore it was a significantly safe place at least for a time.

Challenges are many but one of the most important marks of success would be real results in a reduction in crime, both statistically, through arrest and conviction statistics and through results such as overall reduction in reported crime fear. Though this may seem contradictory to the issue of the public and politics driving the emphasis of allocation, it is still important… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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