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KCPD Police Chief holds listening session, addresses community concerns

Violence town hall
Posted at 10:14 PM, May 11, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KCPD Chief Stacey Graves held a listening session Thursday night and worked to address concerns of south Kansas City residents.

Crime and community engagement were the main topics in the almost two-hour town hall.

People packed a room at United Believers Community Church to tell Graves what changes they want to see to reduce crime in their neighborhoods.

"Stress de-escalation tactics and get rid of the 'you against us' mentality," a speaker told Graves. "Serve and protect and policing are two different things."

The residents were blunt with their suggestions, with one telling Graves the department needed fewer lawsuits files and more community trust.

Another speaker suggested the department try more community policing.

Graves said in the five months she’s been running the department, its community engagement division concentrated their work in communities plagued by violent crime.

"If you live in some of these areas in our city, that’s generations of trauma and exposure to violent crime," Graves said. "We want to be violence interrupters."

Cathy Cowan suffered through traumatic experience with violent crime and wants more officers in her neighborhood.

"A few months ago, I was asleep in the chair because I had surgery in my arm, so I couldn’t sleep in the bed and our house got shot up," Cowan said.

She says people armed with guns are a visible problem.

"I’ve yet to see a police officer in my neighborhood unless someone calls them," Cowan said. "Yes, they come, but with Missouri being an open carry state, we have people in my neighborhood walking around with AR-15s and assault rifles like it’s a purse."

Graves emphasized officers need people in the community working with them to make a difference.

"Not just the police," Graves said. "They're not the end-all and be-all or one solution to violent crime."

Graves said the department is going to start sharing crime data during community meetings so people know more about what's happening in their neighborhoods.