KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City leaders believe asking victims and witnesses to speak out about violent crime isn’t enough.
Now, they’re proposing a new protection program to keep those citizens safe and encourage others to speak up, too, and to shed the fear of community repercussions.
On Thursday, Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced a new ordinance designating relocation money for witnesses and victims. It gives up to $4,000 per person that could be used to relocate someone from a potentially hazardous environment. It’s an idea that came from Lucas’ meeting with leaders from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Tuesday in Kansas City.
Missouri State Representative Mark A. Sharp supports this plan. He also understands the trauma of being exposed to violent crime. In 2000, his 21-year old sister, Candice Richie, was killed in a violent incident while attending the University of Missouri.
“We have to get away from this notion that it’s a bad thing to speak up when somebody is murdered or injured,” Rep. Sharp said.
“There’s a small percentage of people in this city who are accountable for the majority of the violent crime. If we can start to chip away at that number finally, we can start to see some of our violent crime stats go down.”
Kansas City police crime totals show 2022 is on track to be the city’s second-most violent year ever. Lucas believes this program will work well as a sidecar to the Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, where cash rewards are available for information leading to arrests.
“If we can get those somebody’s to start talking, if this helps us get five, 10, 15 somebody talking, not only does it stop that homicide, but it may also stop the cycle of retaliation,” Mayor Lucas said on Thursday.
Sharp co-sponosred a similar plan at the state level in 2000, which was Kansas City’s most violent year. Mayor Lucas said this program is designed to be easier for the public to access.
Lucas says the Kansas City Health Department will facilitate and fund this program, as it does with other anti-violence programs.
The mayor said he hopes to see witness and victim protection money available for use sometime this month.
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