News Dog Speaks: What happened to NoVA?

People traditionally have short attention spans and short memories, something politicians like to capitalize on when speaking to key voter issues such as government spending or violent crime. 

These days, Kansas City’s political leaders, specifically those that would defund the police department, like to point the finger at the city’s thin blue line and place the blame for the spiraling violent crime and homicide rate at their feet. This News Dog has stated for the record, over and over again, that the blame should squarely rest at the feet of our soft-on-crime county prosecutor and her paradigm of continually rolling violent criminals back out on the street to prey on tax paying citizens. It’s proven fact, not opinion and the Dog has the evidence. 

Today, however, that’s not the conversation we’re going to have. Instead, we’re going to talk about a program that was rolled out back in 2013 and used effectively. Yep, Project NoVA. 

NoVA originally debuted as an innovative way to deter violent crime by targeting networks of criminal groups who were responsible for most of the city’s homicides and violent crimes. The concept involved contacting individuals involved in crime networks and inviting them to a “call-in” meeting where they were notified they were on PD’s radar. Instead of being arrested on the spot, attendees were given diversion options through social workers and job mentoring programs. Those that took the offered options were coached and assisted out of the circle of criminal activity and into job training programs and full employment. 

The effort, according to the numbers, paid off in spades. 2014’s homicide rate for Kansas City fell almost 20%, from 100 in 2013 to 82 in 2014. This News Dog wasn’t entirely sold on the program, even railing against the program in a few editorial pieces published in 2012 and 2013. I didn’t fully support the initiative until NoVA Program head Major Rick Smith invited us to a call-in at Independence Blvd. Christian Church where we saw and heard first hand how the program had impacted others who had cleaned up and gone straight. 

Homicide numbers, however, reversed in 2015 and gradually began to creep upward. That upward creep didn’t go unnoticed and members of the historic Northeast community announced a public forum in January of 2018 to address their public safety concerns to city and police officials. The Northeast News was there to cover the meeting at St. Stephen’s Academy that was attended by over 100 residents. 

Following that forum, the formation of the Northeast Violent Crime Reduction Initiative was announced, a task force composed of more than two dozen dedicated KC NoVA personnel. After a two-month push in Northeast, at the behest of East Patrol Major Jim Thomas, crime fell by over 55% between January and March of 2018. Based on those NoVA’s successes, Chief Rick Smith pledged continued support of the program. 

Then 2020 hit and the violent summer riots that divided the city, largely along racial lines, as well as those who either supported the police or despised their very purpose and existence. Officers left the department in droves, a trend that wasn’t slowed until late 2021. To compensate, long-standing programs such as the department’s mounted patrol unit were disbanded in order to put more officers in areas where critical shortages existed. Another victim, you guessed it, NoVA, leaving the initiative to a handful of county staffers with little or no manpower support from KCPD. 

The News Dog thinks it’s time for a shift in terms of KCPD’s NoVA participation level. While the Dog considers Chief Smith a good friend and an excellent chief, we’ve disagreed before on programs being cut, specifically the mounted patrol, a unit that has at its very core, the three primary components of true Community Policing.

As the pandemic continues to ease and officer retirements are trending downward, new Police Academy classes are underway that will bring much needed relief to overworked district officers who continue to run call to call. The Dog says quit with the political shell games on police funding and let’s throw support and resources at a program with a proven track record of reducing crime in the historic Northeast community. Our communities deserve better and we’re ready to partner to make it happen.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Northeast area public pools and spraygrounds

    9 hours ago
    by

    CONCOURSE PARK FOUNTAIN 200 Benton Blvd Open year round. BUDD PARK POOL 5600 Budd Park Esplanade Summer 2022 Season June […]


    Kansas City’s Most Wanted

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    KC Crime Stoppers has partnered with The Northeast News to help track individuals in Northeast KC on the Kansas City’s […]


    Vacant Scarritt School slated for reuse

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Scarritt Elementary School at 3509 Anderson Ave., closed in 2010 during the “right sizing” of […]


    Welcoming KC hosts International Food Tour to celebrate cultures on Independence Ave.

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Welcoming KC hosted this year’s KC International Food Tour in Historic Northeast, a day of celebration […]


    State Representative earns Missouri Horace Mann award

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher State Representative Ingrid Burnett (D-19) was awarded the 2022 Horace Mann Award Thursday evening at a reception […]


    American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Sponsored content The Kansas City Museum’s collections of historical materials are an important means of advancing the Museum’s mission and […]


    Community partnerships at the heart of Mattie Rhodes, NEAT Mission

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Sponsored content Once again the Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast facility at 148 N. Topping is sponsoring a series of community […]


    Man sentenced to 28 years for double homicide in 2019

    June 28th, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced June 27 that 25-year-old Mario Markworth was sentenced to 28 […]


  • Pedestrian suffers critical injuries in early morning hit and run

    June 23rd, 2022
    by

    Update: The female pedestrian has succumbed to her injuries according to KCPD. A female pedestrian who was standing in the […]


    Cafe Cá Phê hosts fundraising yard sale

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Cafe Cá Phê hosted a Yard Sale Pop-Up Event on June 17 to fundraise and support […]


    World Refugee Day celebration brings together the stories of a diverse community

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    EllieAna HaleEditorial Assistant On June 18, the North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library hosted the city’s annual World […]


    Community Calendar

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    FRIDAY, JUNE 24 –Welcoming KC Presents the International Food Tour. $30 per person. CLICK HERE MORE MORE DETAILS SATURDAY, JUNE […]


    Sewing Labs welcome international textile recycler

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Sewing Labs of Kansas City, a nonprofit teaching the legacy of sewing for employment, entrepreneurship, […]


    Students make change in Northeast

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Students from the Ryogoku Soccer Academy are creating change in their community, one project at a […]


    Troost gets creative with business collective

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Aniaya Reed Editorial Assistant The Troost Market Collective (TMC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create equitable economic […]


    Remember this? 86-year-old Music Hall, Little Theater

    June 20th, 2022
    by

    Eighty-six years ago, on June 14, 1936, the Kansas City Music Hall and Little Theater venue space opened inside Kansas […]


    Arts Asylum presents “Heathers: The Musical”

    June 17th, 2022
    by

    On June 15, Faust Theatre is bringing the dark comedy, “Heathers: The Musical,” to the Arts Asylum through June 25.  […]


    Police report late death near 8th and Benton

    June 16th, 2022
    by

    On May 28, at 5:30 a.m., officers were called to the 3200 block of East 8th Street on a reported […]


    Bushnell talks truck-eating bridge on trucker podcast

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    The OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association), the international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on […]


    Project ElderCool takes on the summer heat with a sustainable solution to heat-related deaths

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Summer is here and with that comes excruciating heat and air conditioning systems on blast. But […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.