New Citizen’s Task Force on Violence outlines goals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City, Missouri's Citizen Task Force on Violence met for the first time Tuesday night. Mayor Sly James announced the creation of the task force in November. At that point there had been 90 homicides in the city. There have been 26 in the less than two months since.

“We spend more time putting these kids in the ground and trying to console the family then we got to turn around and do next week,” task force member Pat Clarke said.

The task force is not the City’s first attempt at a committee like it, or their first bout with rising crime.

"This thing has been going bad for 30 years, we didn’t just start getting 100 murders. We need to look at what needs to be put in place to turn the tide,” Rodney Knott, another committee member said.

The 15-member task force, many of them current or former lawyers, spent the better part of two hours explaining why they agreed to serve and explaining what they hoped to accomplish.

No one had an easy answer to the dilemma, but they promised to ask plenty of tough questions over the next year, looking at everything from jobs, to domestic violence, to mental health.

“It’s not our jobs to solve homicides, it’s not our jobs to try to stop crime, but whatever it is we are going to have to be good at it, because all the people in this room expect something good to come out of this,” Clarke said.

Future meetings will be influenced by public opinion on ways to stop violence. Anyone with ideas is encouraged to email the task force at

The task force will meet the second Tuesday of each month at the Gregg/Klice Community Center from 6-8 p.m.

“I think every Kansas City resident every time they hear of an act of violence should feel compelled to do something, that’s what these citizens have agreed to do to come together and address an issue, if we make a difference and the result is saving one life it’s probably worth our time,” Task Force Chair Jolie Justus said.