Project Ceasefire, the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative in the Kansas City, Missouri area, is recognized nationally as being not only one of the first anti-gun violence programs, but one of the most successful. In 1999, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri partnered with the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission to develop and implement a strategy to reduce gun violence. Through contributions from the area business community and foundations, Project Ceasefire was launched. A large advertizing agency, Valentine Radford, played a tremendous role in negotiating advertizing on billboards, TV, and radio, designing a unique Ceasefire logo, and working with research analysts. The information provided by the research enabled Ceasefire to determine a target audience and geographic areas where the program's impact could best be evaluated.
In June 2002, Project Ceasefire was also launched in the Springfield, Missouri area in partnership with the Greene County Prosecutor's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The target population of the educational aspect of Project Ceasefire is aimed at convicted felons. State and federal authorities estimate that about 12,000 persons are currently under some form of release supervision (probation or parole) and that the total number of convicted felons in the metropolitan area may be as high as 30,000. In 2001, the research indicated that Project Ceasefire had reached over 92% of the targeted audience, felons. However, more significantly, research revealed that while the number of crimes committed with firearms had increased, the number of crimes relating to felons in possession of firearms in the target areas in Kansas City had significantly decreased.
Through the extensive media blitz using television, billboards, print ads, mailers and other sources, it is believed that many felons themselves, or under pressure from their families, have chosen not to carry a firearm. There are also one-on-one contacts with felons exiting the penal system to make them aware, through Ceasefire, of the consequences of carrying a firearm. Since it is well established that many crimes are committed by convicted repeat offenders, this program will have a major impact on the community's gun crime rate, thus making the Kansas City and Springfield areas safer places in which to live, raise families, do business and visit.
By educating these persons as to the federal laws and mandatory punishments attached to felons carrying firearms, it is expected that the entire population of the target areas will benefit in many ways. These benefits include a decrease in violent crime, fewer firearms injuries and deaths, less disruption to the families of felons due to arrests, injuries, deaths, and family violence, and a lower rate of arrests and incarcerations of convicted felons for firearms offenses.
The Project Ceasefire initiative also intends to reduce violent crime by those felons who continue to choose to carry firearms or use them in the commission of crimes by educating the public, as well, on this issue. In these cases, citizens in the Kansas City area will be informed to call the existing Crime Stoppers (816) 474-TIPS Hotline, sponsored by the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Project Ceasefire shares common goals with Project Safe Neighborhoods in that, if felons are dissuaded from carrying firearms, it is very likely that a high number of crimes against persons or property will not occur. It is also hoped that without the ready availability of a firearm, family violence may be avoided in the homes of these felons.