KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Over the past year the Citizens Task Force has been taking an in-depth review on how to reduce violence in Kansas City and as of Thursday, the results are in.
The task force was made up of people from different backgrounds all over the city to look at the decades long community problem. They had 12 public meetings.
They said there needs to be a robust discussion with the public about guns. Out of last year's 127 murders, 116 of those were by gun violence. Last year's murder rate was the highest it had been since 2008. At this time last year there were 5 fewer murders than there are now.
Here is a list of the policy solutions:
We encourage the city to continue its focus on addressing vacant and abandoned properties, sustainable economic development in the urban core and programs that create more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for all Kansas Citians. In addition, the Task Force believes the following recommendations will further help the city of Kansas City address the chronic, systemic problems that result in violent behavior.
Fund, develop and implement a comprehensive Youth Master Plan. The purpose of the plan is to effectively coordinate the services, supports and opportunities that youth need to develop and thrive. The plan should include input and coordination between the city, school officials, young people, parents and community organizations.
Work with our City’s federal Congressional delegation to secure a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of the recent increase in homicides in Kansas City. The study would allow the CDC to provide epidemiologic assistance and develop programmatic recommendations for a public health response to homicides in the city.
Pursue state legislation to create interagency domestic violence fatality review teams. Fatality review is a nationally recognized method for understanding how and why people die—the goal of which is to reduce those deaths. Child death review teams operate in nearly all 50 states. Metro area domestic violence agencies currently participate in a voluntary fatality review, but statewide implementation, of a mandatory practice, would garner greater participation from law enforcement and courts and secure better outcomes for the review panel.
It became clear over the course of the year’s presentations that our community has many of the tools in place to address the issue of violence, but better coordination is desperately needed between the existing social service agencies and governmental partners.
The following recommendations are intended to provide tools, staff and funding to leverage the work of evidence-based programs and successful community organizations.
Create a full-time staff position to coordinate the city’s violence prevention efforts. Ideally, this position would report to the City Manager, Mayor and City Council and coordinate efforts across governmental agencies. In addition to coordination of governmental agencies, this position would also facilitate coalition building and leadership training for existing anti-violence programs and neighborhood leaders. While this position is under development, the city should maintain and expand existing city staff positions within the Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department, Health Department and/or Police Department to provide social workers, community health workers and neighborhood coordinators who can focus on comprehensive violence prevention.
Establish storefront community resource centers. A homicide investigative analysis provided by the Kansas City Police Department shows the majority of Kansas City’s homicides occur in a concentrated area. Within that map, non-violent areas can be identified in neighborhoods with extremely active community associations and/or neighborhood watch programs. A handful of Kansas City neighborhoods including the Westside and Ivanhoe have seen a reduction in violent crime when active social service agencies, neighborhood associations or community organizations have a brick and mortar community resource center where residents can access a variety of services. Community stakeholders must be engaged to identify needs, resources, location and services for the resource centers and to develop a sustainable plan for ongoing funding of the facilities.
Establish an electronic database for community resources. Kansas City does not have a single, comprehensive electronic database that contains all current community resources for housing, health issues, employment and general support. There are several organizations that provide a partial list of services or provide referrals for a limited population. These are fantastic tools that could be strengthened through a comprehensive database that is freely and easily accessible to community organizations, law enforcement, government agencies, healthcare providers, social service agencies and the general public.