Aim4Peace aiming for expansion

east patrol

Photo courtesy CIty of Kansas City.

By Joe Lambe

The murder count is zero so far this year in a small east side area covered by Aim4Peace, an anti-violence initiative.

The group, which works in about four square miles within the police East Patrol area, reported Wednesday to the city council public safety committee.

It would cost $4.5 million to expand to cover all of east patrol, city health officials said.

That would be on top of a recent $1.3 million, three-year federal grant the group got to more than double its current area.

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the city health department, said, “As we continue to grow the program we will continue to build out.”

But it must be done carefully, he said. They are still training “interrupters” for the grant expansion that will take it from covering 11 percent of east patrol to covering 34 percent of it.

Aim4Peace is part of an international effort that treats crime as contagious disease and tries to intervene to change behavior.

The interrupters, for instance, go to hospitals to talk to shooting victims and families in an effort to stop retaliation shootings.

They also identify dangerous disputes and mediate.

About half of murders each year are retaliation killings, Archer said, and studies have proven the health model approach works.

Homicides were down more than 50 percent last year in the area covered by Aim4Peace. He said studies for other cities using the method show homicide drops from 30 percent to 70 percent.

Given that, he said, the state of Missouri should consider shifting some funding from prisons to Aim4Peace.

But the $4.5 million needed for far wider expansion cannot make it happen quickly, he said. It takes time to train interrupters and knowledge to work with and monitor them.

They’re different kinds of health workers, Archer said, ones who often have past baggage that gives them street credibility.

Councilman John Sharp said he was pleased with declining homicide rates in the initiative area and would like to see it expanded.

But he agreed that “the expanse of the program will have to be done in a planned, deliberative manner.”

There will be more talks on it in the future, he said.

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