Data-Informed and Place-Based Violent Crime Prevention: The Kansas City, Missouri Risk-Based Policing Initiative

AuthorJoel M. Caplan,Jonas H. Baughman,Leslie W. Kennedy,Grant Drawve
Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Data-Informed and
Place-Based Violent
Crime Prevention:
The Kansas City,
Missouri Risk-Based
Policing Initiative
Joel M. Caplan
Leslie W. Kennedy
, Grant Drawve
and Jonas H. Baughman
The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department sought to reduce violent crime with an
evidence-based approach to problem analysis and intervention planning. Informed by
hot spot analysis and risk terrain modeling, police and their community partners
implemented a place-based crime intervention program focused on key attractors
and generators of the environmental backcloth. Target and comparison areas were
selected for an outcome evaluation. During the 1-year program time period, violent
crimes decreased significantly by over 22%. There was both a significant spatial
diffusion of benefits and significantly fewer police officer-initiated actions resulting
in arrests or citations. Crime prevention was achieved without an abundance of law
enforcement actions against people located at the target areas. Implications for
policy and practice are discussed within the contexts of police responses to
urgent crime problems and data analytics.
School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Department of Sociology and Criminology & Crime and Security Data Analytics Lab (CASDAL),
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Missouri Police Department, Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Corresponding Author:
Joel M. Caplan, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, 123 Washington Street, 5th Floor, Newark,
New Jersey, United States.
Police Quarterly
!The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10986111211003205
2021, Vol. 24(4) 438 –464
Caplan et al. 439
violence, crime prevention, hot spots, community engagement, risky places
The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) has a rich history of
research on crime and place. The 1972 Preventive Patrol Experiment, for
instance, helped pioneer the evidence-based policing movement and demonstrat-
ed the value of researcher-practitioner partnerships (Kelling et al., 1974). Since
then, KCPD has collaborated with many partners to test a variety of policing
policies and practices involving topics such as gun crime hot spots, rapid
response to calls for service, retroactive investigations, and risk terrain modeling
(Caplan et al., 2012; Greenwood & Joan, 1975; Kansas City & Missouri Police
Department, 1977; Kennedy et al., 2015; Sherman & Rogan, 1995; Spelman &
Brown, 1984). In 2014, a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study (Kennedy
et al., 2015) piloted risk-based policing (RBP) in one police patrol division of
Kansas City during a three-month period. The current program expands on
prior efforts in Kansas City by implementing RBP as a department-wide initia-
tive focused on violent crime for a full year.
Risk-based policing addresses situational contexts of crime at particular set-
tings that promote illegal behaviors. Kennedy et al. (2018) define RBP as, “the
operational mindset and practice of reducing and managing place-based crime
risks in order to prevent crime incidents”. In implementing this program, KCPD
followed strict protocols for tracking police activities in target and comparison
areas thus creating an opportunity to evaluate outcomes of this police-initiated
natural experiment. This opportunity led to a post hoc researcher-practitioner
partnership for empirical evaluation, which is presented here. Given the pro-
gram’s place-based nature, crimes were expected to decrease without a signifi-
cant increase in citations written or people arrested.
Review of Literature
In their simplest form, place-based crime prevention strategies direct police to
particular areas to identify and deter potential or motivated offenders located
there (Kennedy et al., 2018; Lum & Koper, 2013). But this approach is incom-
plete if it relies only on saturating crime hot spots with law enforcement officers.
Solving crime problems for the long-term requires more than punitive reactions
to people present at these spots. Environmental criminology offers clues on how
to change situations to make them less conducive to crime (Kennedy et al., 2018;
Mastrofski et al., 2010). Addressing the collective influences of environmental
features that attract crime and generate illegal behaviors is part of an approach
to crime prevention that has been extensively researched (Braga et al., 2019;
2Police Quarterly 0(0)

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