As homicides continue in Kansas City, including seven people over the Memorial Day weekend, the police chief is touting a citywide plan to reduce crime. The Violent Crime Reduction Initiative involves what’s described as an aggressive collaboration between police and a host of other groups, who have ventured into some of the poorest neighborhoods to knock on doors, offering social services, and promising enhanced city services, reports the Kansas City Star. The new strategy encourages more collaboration between police and local organizations, not a new concept. Critics cite a fractured relationship between police and the community, and a focus on criminals instead of the underlying causes of violence. Chief Stacey Graves said the crime reduction plan is not hers, but a citywide initiative that has the police department working alongside county prosecutors, crime-fighting groups, federal authorities and various city agencies.
“We have been out in our neighborhoods,” she said. “One of our goals is to show the community we see criminal activity happening in their neighborhoods, and we are responding to help. Also that we see other concerns affecting the quality of life in their respective neighborhoods.” As of the end of May, there have been 77 homicides reported this year in Kansas City, compared with 67 a year ago, the second deadliest year on record with 171 homicides. As of May 28, there were 197 non-fatal shooting victims, compared with 184 last year. Mayor Quinton Lucas said the new plan addresses prevention, intervention, enforcement and police reform. Some community activists are skeptical the crime reduction plan will have an immediate and lasting impact. They say it’s just the latest in the series of crime-fighting and violence prevention campaigns launched over the past decade with great fanfare and promise, but eventually lost momentum and were abandoned. Kansas City is one of countless communities where gun violence is treated as a crime problem that can be solved by law enforcement. After millions of dollars spent every year on police and prisons, the problem is worse than ever. Police soon will announce the reformation of an illegal firearms squad.