KCK police chief asks businesses for feedback on new crime-fighting program

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Terry Zeigler and community leader Edgar Galicia went down to Central Avenue on Monday expecting to get an earful from business owners, and they did. They're asking for feedback on the department's new crime-fighting program called ACT, Addressing Crime Together.

ACT is aimed at a crime hotspot within a 1.2 square mile area from 7th to 18th streets, where Central runs straight through. A survey showed folks are most concerned with traffic, burglaries, and drugs.

The business owners police met with say they see car break-ins, drunk people, and a dangerous alleyway on the south side of Central.

"We're seeing a decrease in the numbers we're tracking, but it's awful early to tell what the impact is going to be," Zeigler said. "We think things are going in the right direction."

Officers are patrolling more, but that raises another concern.

Josefina, the owner of Mariscos El Pirata, a small seafood restaurant, said people will get on Facebook to warn about police presence.

"When we see more police in this area, the customers just disappear," Josefina said.

One of the misconceptions about the program - that it's an immigration crackdown - is still there. Zeigler said he's not sure how to get ahead of the social media posts but just wants business owners to tell their customers it's not about immigration.

"We want to balance that, the safety and the community," Galicia told Josefina.

But overall most people said they feel safer, like Josefina and an employee at a nutrition store. The owner of a party store said she's seen business increase because people from outside the neighborhood feel safe.  

"It's real important we stay in step with the community," Zeigler said. "It's more important that the officers that are riding the area, that they're being polite, being courteous, they're addressing the issues."

Zeigler says he'll take the business's comments and report back to his team, then adjust patrols.

The department hopes to have comprehensive data on how the ACT Program is affecting crime levels by October.

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