Neighborhoods Take Crime Fighting into Their Own Hands, See Results

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You don't need a badge to fight crime in Jackson County. A program that launched a year ago has the prosecutor's office, police and neighborhoods across the metro working together to lock up the bad guys. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says the program is working and she's already seen big results.

Ten Neighborhood Prosecution Teams were launched over the past year in Jackson County. Marva Moses is part of the Hickman Mills Prevention Coalition. She's teaming up with the prosecution team in her neighborhood because she says she's already seen too many children lose their lives to violence.

"Looking out for all of them, not just mine it's easy to say, 'Mine is fine, and as long as mine is fine, I'm good,'" she said. "The reality is, as long as the block is not fine, yours isn't fine -- that's the ugly truth about it."

Baker says at first people were slow to trust the prosecution teams.

"We were viewed very suspiciously, you know, 'What are you doing here?'" said Peters Baker. "'What do you mean you're going to walk door to door? What do you mean you're going to talk to neighbors?' Now the perception has greatly changed."

Teams go door-to-door speaking with neighbors and businesses to talk about what's plaguing their streets. Peters Baker says gaining their trust, getting people to talk back has been key to cracking crime.

"I've seen it work and I know that it does work," she said.

One success story is in the neighborhood of 27th and Prospect where the first team launched last year.

"They all kept pointing to the same blue house," said Peters Baker. "We got a lot of directives about, 'Hey lady, if you want to do something you need to do something about the blue house,' so we did more looking and checking into the blue house. [We learned] that was a very hot drug house and we were able to get that drug house shut down."

The prosecutor says that one house -- as in many cases -- was destroying the neighborhood. But she says now people are resting a little easier.

Moses says it takes a village to raise a child -- in this case a neighborhood. She says she'll do whatever it takes to keep more kids safe.

"I'm tired of mourning for kids," she said. "It's unacceptable that we are losing our young people at such an alarming rate it's very, very scary and some of it can be avoided."

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