One of the nation’s leading experts on progressive policing addressed Madison Police in a Wednesday presentation.

The MPD’s Special Investigations Unit hosted Professor David Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Kennedy presented his strategic intervention framework, which focuses on how to better deal with the 5 percent of the population that commits the most crimes. He referred to this group as “core offenders” and said the issues that surround them include violence, drug markets, robbery, probation supervision, domestic violence and a variety of other issues.

Kennedy’s discussion centered on providing strong, legitimate consequences for core offenders. He said police can decrease gang violence by holding the entire group accountable when one member commits a violent crime.  

Kennedy said that this strategy successfully combated gun violence when applied among young people in Asian gangs in Lowell, Mass. When the young gang members committed gun violence, the police targeted the senior members in the group and held them accountable, as well.

He said this caused older members of the community to influence the younger members, leading to a significant drop in gun violence associated with young people.   

Kennedy also asserted that law enforcement agencies across the nation are not combating violent crime effectively, leading to a rise in several states.

“This system is not working,” Kennedy said. “It’s wrong. It damages communities and keeps the crime going.”

Kennedy said there is common ground among law enforcement, communities and people on the streets. They all want safe communities, the most dangerous offenders controlled, chaotic crime to stop, profligate enforcement to end, community standards to take over and those who want help to get it, he said.  

Kennedy said the most important step to deter serious crime is for the community to create a moral voice. The community needs to take a clear and direct stand and get respected local figures such as mothers, activists and ministers involved, he said.

Police Chief Noble Wray said he and his officers were excited to hear Kennedy speak and that many of the professor’s ideas built on and reinforced current strategies used by MPD.

“Professor Kennedy is honest, direct and candid,” Wray said. “He addressed areas we can improve on, and we will improve. I gained some insight tonight.”