New partnership between KC police, health departments takes aim at domestic violence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new partnership hopes to put victims of domestic violence in better contact with resources in the community who can help.

The Kansas City Health Department received a grant from the U.S. departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development for slightly more than $1 million spread over three years: 2017-2019. 

Kate Resch, a housing support specialist with the KCMO Health Department, said her agency has partnered with the police department and other groups to raise awareness about which organizations can help victims of abuse. She said finding a place for a victim to live is a critical component to their wellbeing. 

“Housing is a matter of health,” Resch said. “If you are housed, you are going to have better health outcomes both individually and within the entire community.”

Police officers are often the first people victims of abuse meet after an incident. The health department is working to make sure officers can refer victims to organizations like MOCSA and Save, Inc. who can help. 

MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, supports victims of abuse. Save, Inc. helps find housing for people who need assistance. 

The Kansas City Police Department’s diversity officer who is overseeing this partnership said it takes a group effort to end domestic violence. Officer Kimberlee Shaw-Ellis envisions a day when society treats domestic violence the way it discourages drunk driving. 

“You don't ever realize how much a difference you make as an individual in the community, but that's the whole point: it has to be a community coordinated response effort to end domestic violence and to help provide support and safety to those who are most affected by it because it affects every single person in our community,” Shaw-Ellis said.

The police department finds men are the victims of domestic violence more often than the community perceives. As a result, less is publicized about where men can seek help. The police and health departments plan to address that gap with this partnership as well.

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