Community leaders focus on crime as a public health issue in Kansas City

Posted at 5:35 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 18:36:46-05

March, 2015.  There were nearly 2 dozen people at a Kansas City Park, when gunfire erupted.  

Kendra Jackson recalled the aftermath. 

“My son was murdered in broad daylight, around 5 or 6 p.m.,” she said.  

Asaan Williams was just 18 years old and months away from his high school graduation. 

“I had to walk across the stage to accept his diploma,” his mother recalled.  “Those are the things we’re dealing with in our communities. People not willing to step up, keeping silent to violent crimes.” 

A new initiative is hoping to lend a voice so others don’t feel the same pain as Jackson. 

Right now several groups including to brass at the Kansas City Police Department, Kansas City Public Schools, judicial leaders, civic groups and more are all teaming up with the Kansas City Health Department. 

The goal is to tackle crime as a public health issue on the front end, instead of a public safety one. 

Shane Brethower’s organization, Overflow Story Telling Lab is tasked with drafting the narrative.  One that hopes to evolve into an education and ad campaign, much like the war on drugs or mental health. 

]“We’re really focusing on the other side, which is really about trauma associated with violence. And that’s the true disease that perpetuates additional violence and future violent acts.”

It’s a “disease” Jackson says needs to be recognized on the front end. 

“Violence doesn’t start when someone pulls the trigger. There have been things that led up to this point,” she said.

Right now organizers are working to secure funding for this initiative through grants and fundraising efforts.



Kevin Holmes can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter

Follow @kholmesKSHB

Connect on Facebook