KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The summer heat has arrived, which sparks concerns among anti-violence advocates year after year in the Kansas City area. On Tuesday alone, there were four homicides – three in KCMO and one in KCK.
"Everybody always, they’re holding their breath for the summer," Branden Mims, COO of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, said.
Mims said he is frustrated, but not surprised, by this latest rash of crimes.
"All of the factors that were here last year and the year before, and so on and so forth, are still there," he said. "There’s still issues around housing inequality, issues around economic, the factors that create the crime and the violence are still present."
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas has stressed there needs to be a new approach to combat the violence specifically.
"It tells us we need to be creative about solutions. It tells us that there is a lot more that we need to do, but the sad thing is this is normal for the summer in Kansas City," Lucas said. "That’s why we’re looking to work on community policing, working in our neighborhoods. That’s why we’re looking to make sure that fundamentally, and long term, we don’t just say, 'This is OK, we move on and have a different story tomorrow.'"
Two homicide victims on Tuesday in the metro and several others this year have been teenagers, a statistic many hope will change soon.
"I think it has to start in schools," faith leader Emanuel Cleaver III said. "There needs to be conflict resolution, anger management, but another issue that’s been tip-toed around and that is the whole mental health issue I think that’s playing a huge factor."
Many community leaders told 41 Action News one major strategy to reduce crime is for the youth to have something to do, that way they're occupied and away from crime.
"Omaha is one of those examples where one year they put 3,000 teenagers to work, and they saw their shootings go from 300 to 100" Mims said, "which also proves that they need something to do and the situation is also an economic situation."
It's a situation no one wants, but is Kansas City's reality. But there's hope for a brighter future.
Lucas told 41 Action News the city is restarting its Teens In Transition program this Friday, bringing together at-risk teens with law enforcement through art.