Kansas City is one of the most violent cities in the United States.
No matter who is doing the tabulating — the FBI, major news outlets or crime analysts — Kansas City keeps landing near the top of lists ranking the country’s most dangerous and murderous cities.
In 2017, a listing using federal crime statistics ranked Kansas City sixth for violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.
In Kansas City, there is no more urgent priority than reducing the crime rate and moving our city off these ignominious lists. Mayor Sly James and Chief of Police Rick Smith took an important step this week with a pledge to do just that.
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The two leaders did not offer a deadline, but it’s not too much to ask that by this time next year, Kansas City should not find itself among the cities most associated with mayhem and murder.
Failing to aggressively strive for this goal equals acquiescing to the violence. It will become our new normal, as much a part of our defining values as Midwestern hospitality and a sturdy work ethic.
Smith and James outlined measures that are planned or in progress in a lengthy joint blog post. Many of the ideas are laudable.
The commitment to increasing the diversity of the police department and efforts to curb violence and address neighborhood concerns in South Kansas City are needed steps in the right direction.
The oversized role of guns in the wrong hands must also be studied.
The Star will do its part by examining existing programs such the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, COMBAT and other anti-violence initiatives, highlighting what is working while striving to understand why some efforts are less successful.
Looking to peer cities and examining their initiatives will be imperative, as will delving into factors that are unique to Kansas City, such as our deplorable patterns of racial segregation.
There will be those in Kansas City who will find it more comfortable to cling to the idea that most crime occurs to other people’s children in other parts of town. Civic leaders and citizens must make it uncomfortable to remain in that apathetic space.
As the the mayor and the police chief said, “There is no substitute for an engaged citizenry when it comes to fighting crime.” All of Kansas City must join in to leave no doubt that we are all in this together.