Rising crime statistics prompt Mayor James to create task force combating violent tide

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new task force to stop violence in Kansas City is in the works, and on Wednesday Mayor Sly James plans to announce which community leaders who will help brainstorm ways to make our community safer.

Mayor James talked about his new initiative with FOX 4’s Katie Banks Tuesday night at the Marriott Muehlebach Tower in downtown. He was at the hotel to serve as a guest speaker at the biggest fundraiser of the year for High Aspirations, a community organization that mentors young black men and teaches them alternatives to choosing a life of crime.

It’s that crime that’s caught Mayor James’ attention, as he says Kansas City’s murder rate and aggravated assault rate have both spiked this year, making it one of the most violent cities in the country.

Mayor James said it’s those rising statistics and his conversations with victims of violent crime that inspired him to create a task force of citizens who will brainstorm new and creative ways to fight violent crime.

“You don’t have to be around too many situations where children get shot while they’re in bed or while they’re on the porch, or doing homework, for it to have an impact on you,” he said. “And it if doesn’t have an impact on you, then it’s a problem. We need to stop that. We have too many people dying. We know there are things that we can do to stop it.”

The task force will be co-chaired by Councilwoman Jolie Justus, a former Missouri state senator who is very familiar with the Missouri General Assembly, and Andres Dominguez of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The other members will be announced at a Wednesday press conference, and the group is expected to meet periodically over the course of one year.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said the police department is aware of and supports the formation of this citizens group to brainstorm for new and creative strategies to combat the problem.