KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, continued to grapple with violent crime in 2019, ending the year with more homicides than 2018 and nearly reaching a recent record set in 2017.
In Kansas City, 148 homicides were recorded in 2019, an increase from the 138 deaths reported in 2018 but just short of the record 151 homicides reported in 2017.
Across the entire metro, 222 homicides were reported in 2019, an increase from the 207 deaths recorded in 2018, according to data kept by 41 Action News.
In August 2019, KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas took office after campaigning on a promise to reduce the extreme violence the city has endured in recent years. While running for mayor, Lucas said several times that one of his major goals would be to get Kansas City out of the top 10 list of most dangerous cities.
Entering the new decade, Lucas said he is still focused on reaching that goal.
"First of all, we will never take off our focus in connection with crime. For too long, in my whole life in Kansas City, we've said that 150 homicides is something we are getting used to," Lucas told 41 Action News. "I don't find that to be acceptable, and so we have a few key changes. The last few months, you've seen us making a few more efforts on gun reform, making sure that domestic violence offenders don't have guns, making sure that minors do not have guns without parental consent. Our next focus really goes to the investigative side."
Nonprofit organizations across the metro area also are getting involved in the efforts to reduce violence rime. Creative Emajinations is one organization focused on children and keeping them out of trouble.
"We are here to basically connect underserved youth with these volunteers to help motivate them and inspire them," said Ophelia Brinkley, founder of Creative Emajinations.
Creative Emajinations works to provide a place where youth can be imaginative, creative and explore unique opportunities through the art of music and dance, according to its website. The nonprofit welcomes children from different communities into its facility located at 4001 Troost Ave.
"Keep them off the streets, you know, give them something fun to do. Since they love entertainment, just use that as purposefully as we could," Brinkley said.
Creative Emajinations partners with communities, businesses, schools and churches to make those efforts possible.