After deadly summer in Kansas City, community leaders make a push for prevention

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of Kansas City’s most violent summers is winding down.

Police statistics show the murder rate in the city has been near an all-time high in 2020, and now, social activists are seeking ways to restore peace. 

Crime totals from the summer months tell an unfortunate tale. As of Monday morning, Kansas City has seen 139 murders in 2020, 85 of which happened during the summer months. 

Kansas City police shared a breakdown of crime numbers with FOX4, showing the months between April and August were a violent period, with three of the four months including at least 20 homicides each. 

  • May 2020 – 24
  • June 2020 – 22
  • July 2020 – 18
  • August 2020 – 21

Federal officers have been dispatched to Kansas City as part of the Department of Justice’s “Operation Legend,” which is meant to crackdown on violent criminals. One effort to help took shape on Monday, as police and community activists met at the new Justice and Dignity Center at 31st and the Paseo to discuss crime-related issues.

Branden Mims works toward community peace every day, via his work at Ad Hoc Group Against Violence. Mims pointed to Kansas City’s unemployment totals, which reached 14.7% in April, along with a lack of affordable housing as being stressors that have made problems worse.

Mims said federal involvement in Kansas City’s crime problems are fine with him, but he’d prefer crimes didn’t take place to begin with.

“If murders are being solved, and families are getting justice, that’s always a good thing,” Mims said.  “But that’s responding after the fact. We’re going to have to invest in some preventative measures or else we’ll still be chasing homicide after homicide.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Kansas City native, has drawn criticism from the federal level due to the metro’s crime issues. He, like Mims, said a community needs more purpose-driven goals before crime issues will begin to dissolve.

“You can’t just enforce your way out of every problem. On the prevention side, you need to do things like conflict resolution. You need to do things where you’re investing in young people,” Lucas said.

Police research seems to support these viewpoints. Crime totals from the KCPD website indicate most violent crimes begin as arguments between people rather than random acts of violence.

Mims said he believes affording more opportunities in at-risk neighborhoods is a good first step.

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