Safety concerns lead to changes for Rock the Block

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It's the sixth year for "Sly's Rock the Block," an event organized by Mayor James to mark the end of summer-long programming designed to curb violence and keep kids safe. 

For the first time, the event was held from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. instead of starting in the evening. Kansas City police said safety concerns led to the schedule change. Back in 2015, fights broke out at Rock the Block, and the event had to be shut down early.

"We decided to move the event....in order to have the bulk of the day be available to families to bring out their kids and really enjoy the event," Juan Sarmiento, a special assistant for the city's strategic initiatives, said of this year's event.

Sly's Rock the Block is supposed to be a culmination of Club K.C. and Mayor's Nights, two programs designed to give middle and high schoolers safe, fun activities over the summer.

"This really provides them a healthy alternative," Sarmiento said.

But violence continues to plague Kansas City, with 89 homicides so far this year. Reducing crime is a key point in Mayor James' agenda. He's currently hoping to fill a newly-created position called the Violent Crime Programs Coordinator. It's one step in the city's efforts to make streets safer after dark.

In the meantime, families told 41 Action News they're appreciative of Rock the Block's new schedule.

"It's a fun, free, safe event for the whole family," said Christina Mack, who attended with her husband and three kids.

The event was held at Washington Square Park instead of at Union Station, where it was held in previous years.

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