Last year the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission celebrated 70 years of work that has had a profound impact on crime rates in the Kansas City metro area. Here is a look at how the Crime Commission has evolved in the 70 years since its inception.
1949 Recognizing a need for civilian efforts in the fight against crime, eleven men and their wives met for dinner at the Saddle and Sirloin club on September 13, 1949 to discuss the establishment of an anti-crime organization. After much discussion, the founders agreed upon the structure of the organization which would become known as the Kansas City Crime Commission.
Under our first President, E.M. Dodds, the initially stated purpose of the Crime Commission was to be to “promote and engage in scientific research within the fields of criminology, penology and related sociology and announce the results of research to the general public for practical use, and act as a non-partisan, scientific agency of citizens’ inquiries for the promotion of the efficiency and activity of all officers and departments of the State of Missouri, County of Jackson, City of Kansas City, charged with the duties of suppressing, preventing and punishing crime.” Simply put, the Crime Commission sought to obtain empirical evidence indicating the causes of crime and implement strategies which aid in its prevention.
Today, we still hold true to this purpose through our four programs which specifically address various aspects of crime.
The Crime Commission helped identify Kansas City's organized crime leaders in the 1970s, then documented successful prosecutions against the crime syndicate.
In 1982, the first anonymous calls began rolling into the Crime Commission-sponsored TIPS Hotline, and it has since become one of the three most successful Crime Stoppers programs worldwide, clearing over 25,000 felony cases. The Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline combats crime directly by providing safe and anonymous outlets for the public to share information without the threat of retaliation.
In 1994, the Metropolitan Community Service Program was established as a restorative justice option that aims to transform the destructive effects of crime into constructive community aid by allowing offenders to repay their community through service rather than costly incarceration.
Recognizing the need to support the families left behind when local first responders gave their lives in the line of duty, the Crime Commission launched the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund (SAFE) in 2003. SAFE provides immediate financial support to the families of local police officers, firefighters, and emergency service personnel killed in the line of duty. Since its inception, SAFE has paid over $500,000 in benefits to 29 surviving families.
In 2008, the Crime Commission launched the Second Chance Risk Reduction Center for formerly incarcerated individuals seeking to change their ways and become self-sufficient, productive members of society. Second Chance provides resources to instill change, significantly lowering the local recidivism rate. Second Chance interrupts the cycle of crime by helping participants overcome common barriers in order to make lasting changes and significantly reduce their risk of re-offending. By significantly lowering local recidivism rates, countless crimes are being prevented through the Second Chance program.
The Crime Commission has come a long way in the past 70 years, but our work is far from over. Following the vision of our founding members who sought a way for citizens to get involved in the fight against crime, the Crime Commission continues to work to interrupt the cycle of crime by bridging the gap between citizens and law enforcement agencies. Our commitment to crime prevention, offender rehabilitation, first responder support, and restorative justice has had a substantial impact on crime in Kansas City, but there is still much work to be done. We invite our community to get involved and be proactive by promoting crime-free lifestyles, supporting their first responders, sharing what they know, taking pride in their community, and helping us power a safer, better Greater Kansas City community.