KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, now has a Victim Services Task Force to address root causes of violence.
Over the weekend, the police department reported five homicides, including the deaths of two 15-year-olds.
Earlier this year, the Violence Free Kansas City subcommittee of the Health Commission created the Victim Services Task Force.
Its goals are to work with hospitals and police departments on notification and visitations policies when a relative is the victim of violence, build trust between victims and judicial systems, and work to avoid retaliation.
Dr. Marvia Jones, the division manager for community and family health education at the city’s health department, oversees the agency’s violence prevention and policy efforts.
She said if someone is unhappy with how the judicial system or a social service group helped them after an act of violence, they may choose to handle future problems without those agencies.
“And so then they take on a mindset that any problems I have, I’ll take on my own. That’s what we don’t need because that’s what we’re seeing: people handling problems, taking matters into their own hands,” Jones pointed out.
At one of its first meetings last week, the Victim Services Task Force heard from survivors to help it prioritize its goals.
“One person is shot or killed, but many more people are now dealing with the aftermath of that which doesn’t end after a ceremony, it continues on. That stress impacts the whole family,” Jones explained.
The task force coincides with the health department’s rollout of another anti-violence program, called KC Blueprint.
Jones said KC Blueprint gives everyone in the community actionable items to help curb violence by eliminating stress.
The plan explains the impact of a business owner paying employees a human wage above minimum wage. The Blueprint calls on the city to host programs like, “Resolve It,” where people with outstanding fines can pay them at discounted rates.
“Toxic stress does not just remain inside of a person. They transfer that to their children, they transfer that to their intimate partners, they transfer it to people they run into on the street,” Jones explained. “So the fewer barriers in their world, in their lives, the less likely they are to transform that energy into violence.”
The KC Blueprint is online for anyone to view. Jones said years of community engagement helped craft the approach.
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.