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KCMO Mayor Lucas tours Lykins Neighborhood to gather input for crime plan

Tour kicks off engagement for Reform Project KC
Mayor Lucas Lykins Walking Tour
Posted at 3:52 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 00:13:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas took his new anti-crime initiative to the streets Thursday.

Lucas, who announced a new initiative Wednesday to combat violent crime in KCMO, believes the plan's framework needs to be built upon with community input, some of which he started to gather in Northeast Kansas City's Lykins Neighborhood.

The Lykins Neighborhood Association takes pride in the progress they've made in renovating vacant homes, which left untouched can attract trouble.

"Sometimes you have five, 10, 15 people who will move into that and they’ll set up shop, they’ll start stealing, they’ll (engage in) prostitution, they’ll run drugs and they really attack and harm the whole neighborhood," Lykins Neighborhood Association President Robert Ontman said.

Community leaders largely have taken it upon themselves to try and transform the Lykins Neighborhood.

"You can take care of your own crime in a positive way," Ontman said. "You can take care of your own blight. It’s just a matter of organizing and never giving up and realizing it's our job to take care of us. It’s not anybody else’s job."

Lucas, joined by representatives from other city departments including KCPD, came to see it for himself a day after announcing a four-pronged plan, dubbed the Reform Project KC, which aims to curb the city's ongoing violence.

Lucas championed his plan as one that will focus on prevention, intervention, enforcement and administrative reform.

It's the prevention pillar leaders will focus on first in the Lykins Neighborhood, though the plan is also dependent on what he hears and sees from residents.

Gregg Lombardi, executive director of Lykins Neighborhood Association, showed Lucas how vagrants hanging out at Lykins Square Park keep families away.

"But the deal is they cast a heavy shadow over this part," Lombardi said, "and so, if you're a parent with a small child, you're probably not going to want to bring your child to the park with those guys hanging out there."

Lucas said Mekhi Knight, 12, if he felt safe playing basketball there.

"Yeah, it's good," Knight said. "There's a few bad things that happen around here."

While KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker joined Lucas for Wednesday's announcement, many community leaders skipped it and later expressed skepticism about the plan to 41 Action News.

Previous plans like the Kansas City No Violence Alliance showed promise in the past before petering out. Lucas said a long-term commitment is important for the Reform Project KC to succeed.

"You keep pushing and you keep moving," Lucas said. "What we can’t do is say, 'God help us, you know, in 2021 there are still a lot of shootings that are still a lot of homicides.' We can't just say, 'Well, let's just abandon it all immediately." What we need to do is say, ‘All right now, what are the good tools that we're following and using?'"

The mayor’s office calls the Lykins neighborhood walking tour “the first of many” efforts to engage the community in finding long-term solutions to the rising tide of violent crime in KCMO, which includes 146 homicides so far in 2020.

RELATED | KSHB’s Homicide Tracker

KCMO’s single-year record for homicides is 153 in 1993, according to KCPD data.