Kansas City has had 30 homicides so far this year, down from 38 at this time a year ago. That’s the good news.
But the bad news is that annual homicides have fallen below 100 only four times since 2000 and only seven times since 1980. And Kansas City government has implemented only a few recommendations from a 2006 Commission on Violent Crime.
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So on Monday, another commission on violent crime, convened in late 2011, issued updated recommendations that its members hope will do more than sit on a shelf.
They called for the hiring a full-time coordinator in city government to push crime prevention initiatives and monitor their effectiveness. They said the commission should be permanently impaneled to champion a sustained effort. And they recommended specific actions for neighborhoods, schools and others to help the city address the problem.
“I think this is an outstanding look at the potential solutions,” Mayor Sly James told the group, adding that the report will now go to the City Council for its consideration. But James said he did not know how much the coordinator and other recommendations would cost or how quickly the city can act.
The 2006 and 2011 commissions were both led by Stacey Daniels-Young, the director of Jackson County’s COMBAT anti-drug program. She said the current report took so much time to compile because it went through several drafts and took into account some of James’ suggestions, such as emphasizing reading readiness in school. That already is one of James’ priorities.
Daniels-Young and other commission members acknowledged some promising initiatives are already underway, such as the Kansas City No Violence Alliance and the move to reopen Kansas City alternative schools.
But the commission also said Kansas City needs to do more to help ex-offenders find employment, determine the role of youth and adult gangs in violent crime, promote conflict mediation in neighborhoods and create a citywide truancy prevention program.