Commission on violent crime makes recommendations

The mayor’s commission on violent crime on Monday presented recommendations shaped by past indifference to such things.

It noted that most 2006 recommendations by a previous crime commission faded like chalk on a rainy crime scene sidewalk.

The first two new recommendations are to make the commission permanent and to hire someone to implement its priorities and monitor effectiveness of programs.

“As the old saying goes, what gets monitored gets done,” said Stacey Daniels-Young, commission chair.

Also, said commission member Gene Morgan of Hyde Park, some other cities that enacted somewhat successful crime reforms then tended to lose interest, “kind of take their foot off the gas.”

The commission was appointed two years ago to look at causes of Kansas City violence and ways to stop it.

It agreed on causes that the other commission reported in 2006–such as lack of jobs and education, drug and alcohol abuse, poor parenting, gangs and crime in neighborhoods and a culture where guns and violence are common ways to deal with conflict.

“Homicide in Kansas City has become almost a normal state,” Daniels-Young said.

In 1968 there were 99 homicides for the first time since the 1920s. Since then, for all but nine years, there have been 100 or more. Most victims are 17 to 24, she said, and most are black men.

“It’s a phenomena of African American males and of young people,” she said.

Widespread and easy access to guns in the city is also a major problem, commission members said, but Missouri laws block the city from tightening its gun laws.

“Guns come up in every conversation; there’s just a proliferation of guns,” Morgan said. “It’s just crazy.”

The commission’s other four main recommendations:

  • Build strong neighborhoods throughout the city, “block by block, and replicate successful approaches.”
  • Create a youth consortium and comprehensive youth master plan. In some cities and colleges, Daniels-Young said, youths themselves have used social media “to change that culture, change that ethos” that violence is acceptable.
  • Schools, public and charter, should have strict policies on truancy, suspension and discipline to keep youth off the streets and in the classroom.
  • Alternative schools and other options toward earning diplomas should be expanded. “A disturbing level of violence is being exhibited in the school setting and the history of some students makes it clear that they would benefit from special attention to dealt with their aggressive behaviors,” the report states.

Commission member William Dowdell of its education committee, said such programs pay off. “There’s a drastic reduction in crime during school hours,” nhe said.

The education committee also recommended that youth get “continual learning suspensions” if suspended from school for three days or more. The first day would be a cooling off period at home and the rest at an alternative school.

Mayor Sly James thanked the commission members and said, “The bottom line is the only way we’re going to get anything done is with a collaborative effort.”

He added, “Absolutely none of these problems is going to be solved overnight; what we should be looking for are the marginal victories, things we can pick off quickly.”

Comments are closed.