The new year is going to bring a new, more comprehensive approach for addressing gun violence in Kansas City.

It’s called KC 360, it’s coming to the Santa Fe Neighborhood, and it’s modeled after a wildly successful approach in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha 360 is part of The Empowerment Network, which is a series of campaigns addressing a variety of issues in the community. Omaha 360 focuses on violence intervention and prevention.

The group boasts cutting the shooting and homicide rate by 74%, increasing the number of solved homicides from 30% to 80%, and decreasing officer-involved shootings by 90% over more than a decade.

KC 360 will do the same, first targeting the few blocks of the Santa Fe Neighborhood.

It’s a place where the rich history includes homes that once belonged to Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil, but now are checkered with open lots, vacant properties, and two to three homicides a year, according to Santa Fe Neighborhood Council President Marquita Taylor.

“The reason Santa Fe was selected was become of the high crime,” Taylor said.

Willie Barney started The Empowerment Network and he says the key is making sure everyone in a community has a seat at the table.

“Hearing from the residents, hearing from those that are most impacted, getting their thoughts and recommendations I think is what has kept people at the table, and then acting on it,” Barney said.

Kansas City organizers like KC Common Good’s Reverend Darren Faulkner say underused spaces can be used to build affordable places for community members to maybe start a business, giving them a job, making the community a better place to live and therefore, making it safer.

“When we look at the numbers from Omaha and see the success, they have had with this imitative, it just gives us hope,” Faulkner said.

The hope is that Kansas City can replicate the same success in Santa Fe and, eventually, across the city.

Omaha and Kansas City have about the same population within city limits (Omaha: 480,000, KC: 491,000) but Omaha only has about 20 homicides in 2022 so far. Kansas City has more than 120.

“One of the things I think we can be successful at here in Kansas City is that collaboration,” Faulkner said.

That work has already started with KC Common Good pulling together community members, local businesses, and other organizations to figure out how they work together when the program launches in early 2023.

Already, an ambitious clean up proved to some residents that KC 360 is different than previous attempts to curb the violence.

“Our neighbors were able to say, ‘Hey this is different, what else ya got,” Taylor said.

Omaha has found that once local stakeholders identify the challenges, it’s a lot easier for other groups to help address them.

“As we begin to do work in these targeted geographic areas, the city, the county, the state, foundations, business community neighborhoods, churches, they begin to see what their role can be more clearly,” Barney said.

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