KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As violent crime continues to tear families apart in the Kansas City metro, a group of anti-violence advocates wants to renew their efforts to make an impact on the community.
The Keeping Communities On Guard, or KCOGs, have been around for more than 10 years working to reduce violence in Kansas City.
"We have to make a change," Lamar Vickers, KCOG co-founder, said.
Now, they are trying to recruit more people to become mentors, help people find jobs or become a referee for a sports league to help reduce violence – especially for teenagers and young adults. The event will take place from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the 24 Hour Faith Training Center, at 24th and Park streets.
"We have to get involved with them in order to help them change their life," Vickers said.
One strategy the KCOGs found successful with in the past was stopping crime before it starts through a conflict-resolution program.
"Before the violence erupts, there’s a conflict," Vickers said. "So if we are notified at that point, what we can have a response team to come and intercede at that point, we can stop a lot of the things from escalating into what ends up being a violent act."
The KCOGs have helped steer people in the right direction, like Marcus Williams.
"You can relate to somebody who’s your color, you can relate to somebody who speak the same volume, who have the same concerns," Williams said.
Now Williams owns a successful construction company called Triple 777 Construction and wants others to find a life outside of crime and find mentors like the KCOGs.
"If you’re not around the people that can help you see within yourself, looking up outside yourself, you’re automatically going to fail," Williams said.
Others in the community, such as Pastor Timothy Hayes at 24 Hour Faith Training Center, where Sunday's event will take place, want to do their part and lead by example.
"What I try to do is I try to show people that there is a way out," Hayes said. "I own multiple businesses. I give employment to felons and things along those lines and give second chances."
The group hopes this is a recurring event week after week to let as many people join the effort as possible.