KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. extends into community crime prevention, for some.
City leaders in KCK continue to zero in on crime on their streets. Leaders in Wyandotte County continue the search for long-term solutions to crime.
Some KCK leaders support Group Violence Intervention as a means of addressing the sources of trouble.
Monday’s MLK Day event at Memorial Hall, which was conducted by Churches United for Justice, drew a large crowd. Churches United represents 14 congregations in Wyandotte County. That group is encouraging police to use GVI to identify problems and confront them head-on. The program depends on community interaction with police.
“I believe as long as people get involved,” Pastor Raynard Gihvan, Sr., who represents New Light Missionary Baptist Church, said. “People have to voice their opinion. If you don’t say anything, things will stay the same. We need to encourage people to get involved in the process to facilitate change.”
Crime totals from KCK Police show a slight improvement in that city’s murder rate, including 2022’s 39 homicides, which is down from 2021’s total of 51. There’s also a noticeable difference in aggravated burglary cases. KCK police worked 76 burglaries that involved a weapon in 2022.
Group Violence Intervention is similar to the No Violence Alliance approach used in the past by Kansas City, Missouri Police. Current Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Karl Oakman was an officer with that agency at the time.
“It’s always been education and poverty. That’s a given. What we’re starting to see — some is domestic violence. We’re seeing a big push around domestic violence,” Oakman told FOX4.
Officers are also focusing on fentanyl dealers, according to Oakman.
KCK Mayor Tyrone Garner said he supports this program, but the police will need community help to make it work.
‘The police department can’t solve crimes alone. The police department is only as good as the information and support they get from the community,” Garner said.
Chief Oakman said he hopes to see a plan to put GVI in motion by March.
The next community meeting to discuss Group Violence Intervention is Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the Salem Missionary Baptist Church. The meeting is open to the public.