KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Faith leaders held a prayer vigil Tuesday night in Kansas City, Kansas saying they are fed up with violent crime.
They want the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department to institute a program aimed at Group Violence Intervention.
Speakers at the prayer vigil held inside KCK City Hall chambers included the sister of a teen who loved cars, killed three days before Christmas.
“We had a nickname for him clutch so, every time we needed him he’d always come in clutch,” Carlos Ambriz’s sister Itati Becerra said.
Laron Thompson, a pastor whose father was shot and killed in Wyandotte County and a member of Churches United for Justice delivered a simple message about violent crime.
“Enough is enough,” he said.
Meanwhile at the KCK Police Department the City’s Police Chief says his department implemented aggressive strategies not long after Ambriz’s December 2021 killing.
‘The KCK Police Dept. is not talking and having meetings to talk. We are actually out doing and the numbers suggest that,” Chief Karl Oakman said.
After seeing reductions around 25% for homicides and robberies last year, shootings are down 45% so far this year. Homicides are down 60% compared to the same point last year.
The pastors want a Group Violence Initiative targeting gang or group related violence helping members escape the lifestyle.
The police department has sent the program over to the Unified Government’s Legal Review and John Jay College of Criminal Justice to do a deeper dive on the data and resources necessary.
“There is some (group) violence there, but it’s not a significant amount of violence. A lot of it is individuals, domestic violence and the fentanyl drug trade,” Oakman said.
Oakman compared fentanyl associated crimes with crack cocaine in the 1980s. He says they are seizing anywhere from 2 to 5 illegal guns in every fentanyl drug raid.
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But in the vigil the coalition of faith leaders prayed the Group Violence Initiative they are backing moves forward.
“Whatever piece we can help the police department to reduce violence to reduce murder to reduce crime it’s a win win for everybody, one less murder is a huge victory for Wyandotte County,” Rev. Bruce Draper said.