KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Using a boots on the ground approach, Aim4Peace tracks violence like any health department would track a disease; working to intervene and find a solution before conflict escalates within the community.
“Just like the owner of Jubilee‘s, we have a tight relationship with him,” Aim4Peace Program Manager Rashid Junaid said. “He calls us when situations happen in front of his store; people are fighting or shootings are happening, he’ll call us and we’ll go down to the store on 24th and Hardesty and we’ll try to help resolve those conflicts."
40 of Kansas City’s 154 homicides in 2020 stemmed from arguments and three from retaliation according to the Kansas City Police Department.
Aim4Peace is trying to reduce those numbers as the city marks a grim milestone.
“On one side of the tape the police are investigating on the other side of the tape the family is investigating and they’re not investigating just to know, some of them are investigating to retaliate," Junaid said.
The program helps families deal with these traumatic experiences by offering services like free counseling. However, the budget for these services is limited.
“That’s one of the things that we talk about is the resources that are given to locking people up and responding, versus the resources given towards prevention,” Junaid said. “We have $260 million going towards locking people up and we have Aim4Peace given $400,00, it’s like a great disparity in effort.”
This is an effort that Kansas City native, Eriq Jones says changed his life after he was shot.
“I just got caught up, my mama left she must’ve moved away and I was still down there and it was like I was stuck down there and then I ended up being homeless where I had to start selling drugs just to provide for myself because I didn’t have no way,” Jones said. “Well, I felt like I didn’t have a way.”
It was near East 24th Street & Van Brunt Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri, where Eric says he came back with someone wanting to buy marijuana from him.
Then his life took a turn.
“As soon as we get to the second level of stairs he just turned around and pulled a gun out and he said just give me everything,” Jones said. "I got so much pride so I said, I can’t give you nothing you’re gonna have to kill me.”
After a struggle over the gun Jones says he was shot twice in his legs.
“They called an ambulance then they sent me to Truman and Aim4Peace came and saw me at Truman,”Jones said. “They were saying 'are you trying to retaliate?' I said, I ain’t gonna lie I was, but then it’s like 'what’s the point of retaliating?' I'm trying to better myself.”
After overcoming these traumatic experience, Jones is now living independently in a new part of the city and is now reunited with his children.
He credits Aim4Peace for showing up at Truman Medical Center and helping change his path.
Aim4Peace is a violence prevention program that was started in Kansas City in 2008, and is ran through the Kansas City Missouri Health Department.
After a commission on violent crime listed 21 recommendations back in 2008, one was to adopt the Cure Violence model from Chicago.
To contact Aim4Peace about conflict resolution in your neighborhood, you can call their 24-hour emergency peace line at 816-352-3069. You can also find them on Facebook.
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.