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New initiative unites community groups to lower violent crime in Kansas City

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Posted at 10:15 PM, Aug 16, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are several community groups doing violence prevention work through a new initiative that brings them together under one roof.

The rampant violence in Kansas City, Missouri, keeps ripping families apart. More than 100 people have died at the hands of another so far this year.

“The circumstances are so dire right now, that every effort counts, every single initiative counts,” Melesa Johnson, deputy chief of staff for KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, said.

Johnson is one of the leaders spearheading a coalition of 30 community organizations.

"Partners for Peace" will offer social services to victims of violent crime, those who are likely to commit crimes and those who have served time.

“Things that really get to why people sometimes fall into the grip of criminality, especially in the urban core,” Johnson said.

Individuals will connect with their services through KCPD, the Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole Officers, "Custom Notifications” through the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office and trauma hospitals.

“It's a collaborative effort that I've not seen before,” Annette Lantz-Simmons, executive director at the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR), said.

CCR, one of the groups involved, believes it's going to interrupt the ongoing violence.

“We do restorative justice processes that are shown to change behavior,” Lantz-Simmons said.

The core of this initiative may sound a lot like the "Kansas City No Violence Alliance" also known as "KC Nova."

Launched in 2013, the program gave groups of violent criminals and their associates a chance to turn their lives around.

The following year the city marked its lowest homicide count in more than 40 years, but the program was quietly put on the back burner.

“We have to find a way to institutionalize it so that it does not go away," Johnson said. "And I think the best way that we can do that is success."

She adds this initiative focuses more on the individual and gives the community a voice.

“Prevention is really a long game," Johnson said. "But given our current violent crime, we cannot wait that long.”

The coalition will meet weekly. On Wednesday, they'll be at the Gregg Klice Community Center.