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City leaders discuss what's next in fight against guns, violent crime

Posted: 3:49 PM, May 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-01 17:56:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – City leaders gathered Tuesday morning to outline what’s working – and what’s not – as the city seeks to better understand its crime concerns.

According to the latest KC STAT report, property crime and crimes against persons are down, but the number of people who feel safe in their neighborhood and city is also down, by nearly 7 percent year-to-date.  

Homicides are up, and on pace to be a deadlier year than 2017’s 151.  

The homicide trend has Kansas City Mayor Sly James fed up.

“I’ve been sitting around here for 7 years, talking about the slow-motion mass murder that occurs in the city,” James said.

Officials hope to implement three strategies by the end of the year – all three place an emphasis on building relationships with young people and crime victims – via anti violence programs, working with KC school districts and using public health leaders to discuss how crime impacts everyone.  

James says he’s encouraged by the progress, but added that it takes involvement from everyone for the strategies to work. 

“I don’t care how much money you spend on police. They’re not going to be able to be everywhere in 318 square miles,” James said. “I refuse to believe somebody can be shot in a public place and nobody knows anything about it.”

In addition to help from the community, James says he needs help from lawmakers.  

“I don’t have a problem with guns.  I don’t have a problem with the Second Amendment.  But nobody has ever convinced me there’s a rational basis for allowing 19-year-olds to having any weapon they want, riding around the streets of Kansas City at 12 o’clock at night,” James said. “They’re not hunting, and if they are hunting, they’re hunting 2-legged animals which is illegal.”

Kansas City leaders expect to launch more programs in the summer, including neighborhood workshops on how to deal with trauma, and first aid training for residents.  

The city’s violence program coordinator expects to implement a mentorship program by July.