Mayor Lucas wants funding routed to trauma and mental health services

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - "You should be able to not have to have gunshots waking you up, or being a soundtrack of your life," Mayor Quinton Lucas told a crowd at his first Town Hall on Saturday.

Lucas calls public safety in Kansas City his paramount concern. Since he took over the mayoral office almost exactly five months ago, Kansas City has had more than 60 homicides -- including two this weekend.

The latest was just before two o'clock Sunday morning at 10th and Chestnut, which is a block east of Prospect. Police say they received a report of shots fired. When they arrived, they found a black man dead in the street. Police are still looking for a person they believe know something about Friday night's homicide near 87th and Oldham near Blue Ridge Boulevard, where another person was killed.

Including those last two, the total of homicides for the city sits at 130 for the year.

But for every person who is killed, there are many who are affected: family members, friends, health care workers, etc. The mayor says one of his top priorities is public safety, and he would like to see more money go to trauma and mental health services.

There was volunteer orientation at the Healing Pathway headquarters at 15th and Holmes in Kansas City on Sunday.

Since Healing Pathway was founded in 2011, the organization says its helped 1,000 children who have been impacted by a violent death in Kansas City. The president of the non-profit offers counseling, therapy sessions,along with parties and gifts to help the children.

Monica Roberts says she could help more if she had more money. "It would be amazing to have additional funds," she said. "Our services are completely provided through volunteerism, and we have a very limited amount of resources to provide emergency services to our children and families."

Healing Pathway is known for its large Christmas party for children who have lost a loved one to homicide. This summer, it hosted a therapy session with Wayside Waifs. It's one of several non-profits trying to stymie the violence in Kansas City.

"The numbers are not going down," said Roberts, "so the only way that I think we can address the problem is to address the younger population, right now. But it's going to take some intensive services, and with that comes the funding support."

On Saturday, the mayor hosted a town hall, discussing a wide variety of issues. He called public safety his paramount concern.

"What I`m really interested in," he told the crowd, "(is) how do we actually fund trauma and mental healthcare in our city, in a way we never have done? How do we make sure we`re funding workforce development? Some of those things that precede crime, that can be very important to us being safer."

He continued, "When I talk about trauma, that relates to those who have actually been victims of gunshots. Right? About 500 people in this city will suffer non-fatal gunshots. What are we doing to make sure those folks have wrap-around services, they receive counseling, they have social workers connected to them. Right now, too often you`re bandaged up. You leave the hospital, you`re angry, you`ve got a crew that`s angry, and we have to make sure we address those key steps."

The mayor's office says it will be seeking funding for trauma and mental health services in its budget, which will be proposed in February. It will go before the council in March. On Sunday, it could not provide how much money it was seeking in funding.

For its part, Healing Pathway needs help now. It's annual Christmas party is just around the corner, and is seeking donations.

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