With virus restrictions, one group still works to curb Kansas City’s crime — virtually

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City saw a violent holiday weekend, with six shootings reported to police.

During the pandemic, community organizations trying to curb crime have been forced to find new ways to operate.

The Center for Conflict Resolution works with thousands of families a year. Its practice thrives on face-to-face communication, which isn’t possible right now.

But with rising violence as stay-at-home home orders are lifted, continuing the work they’re doing is more important than ever.

As Kansas City celebrated its Super Bowl-bound Chiefs in January, gunfire erupted outside the 9ine Ultra Lounge. Romney Aubrey is one of the 15 surviving shooting victims.

“The lifestyle that people like me tend to live, until you got a wake up call, is either you’re going to go to jail for life or you gonna end up dead,” Aubrey said.

The bullet pierced his shoulder, requiring surgery and leaving nerve damage. It was the second time he’d been shot.

Aubrey’s now marking a year out of prison. He’s got a steady job and credits the Center for Conflict Resolution with helping him turn a corner and learning how to control his anger.

“I’m on the right path. I ain’t trying to have nobody bring me down. If I see a negative vibe, I’m gone,” Aubrey said.

Annette Lantz-Simmons knows the value of the work being done at CCR.

“If we can get a program like this as part of a lot of people’s everyday life, I think we can begin to change the mindset, the cycle of violence that we have in Kansas City by showing a different way,” said Lantz-Simmons, executive director of the center.

That’s why even during the pandemic, the Center for Conflict Resolution is still going strong.

Her team’s worked to make sure technology is available and accessible for clients to stay connected to learn tools for working out issues, without resorting to violence.

“We’re able to support people in calming themselves, taking a breath, going to a corner, listening to music, anything that can kind of switch that reactionary part of their brain off so that they can have control again,” Lantz-Simmons said.

But she’s not surprised the rollback on restrictions during this public health crisis, which has brought new struggles for families, is leading to an increase in violence with shootings across the city.

“We can’t ignore the trauma this is causing,” Lantz-Simmons said. “We have to deal with it. Otherwise there’s going to be people who are acting out or acting in from their pain of the trauma.”

Aubrey is grateful he’s now able to see things from a different perspective and not let the little things get to him. The father of two hopes others in the community will take time to learn those skills also to stop the suffering.

“You can miss a lot of moments while you doing prison time or anything for any foolish mistakes we out here doing,” Aubrey said.

The Center for Conflict Resolution offers its programs on a sliding fee scale and works to make sure classes are available and affordable to anyone who wants help. You can reach them online or by calling 816-461-8255.

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