KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves is continuing her quarterly listening sessions throughout the city while revealing on Thursday night that the department is rolling out a new squad that will focus on illegal firearms.

Graves was talking about how parts of the police department have been restructured in her nearly five months on the job, which included bringing back the Missing Persons Unit because community members asked for it.

In two weeks, she hinted, the department would be forming an Illegal Firearms Squad focused on getting guns off the streets and enforcing existing gun laws.

“I want Kansas City to know that we’re doing a lot internally behind the scenes to make Kansas City better,” she said. “It’s important that we can address these [violent crimes] as they come and try to stop it, to be those violence interrupters.”

Community members like Thomas Shelton are watching. He was a police officer in the 1970’s and 1980’s before becoming a pastor for the last 30 years.

He likes Graves and other members of the department who he’s talked to and agrees with her that the community and department share responsibility for making the community a better place to live.

“I think the community has to get more involved,” Shelton said. “The community has to take some responsibility in regard to how our children behave and how we behave in our community.”

At the same time, “In regard to the police, they’ve got to change some things,” Shelton said. “They’ve got to change some attitudes; they’ve got to change probably some of their policies.”

Graves says she’s already started that process with her restructuring, quarterly listening sessions, and more holistic approach to safety in the city.

“You heard from some of our tables tonight that people talked about opportunities, jobs, education, so some of those are what we’re talking about when we bring resources in,” Graves said.

She points out that when she says “we” she refers to the whole city and not just her department. She says crime data sometimes suggests that specific characteristics of a community sometime contribute to crime. When a vacant building might be inviting illegal activities, Graves says, she might work with the city to demolish the building that might have been a haven for danger for generations.

“It’s important that we can address these as it comes and try to stop it to be those violence interrupters,” Graves said.

“When you’re willing to listen, you learn something,” Shelton said. “The question is: Do you take what you’ve learned and implement it into something positive.”

Graves says her changes are already making a difference and that there are more to come.