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Mon June 8, 2009
Budget Cuts Threaten Violence Prevention Programs
Kansas City, MO – In some places across the country, homicides are down recently; but in some mid-size cities, like Kansas City, the number of murders is climbing. But some programs that combat violence in Kansas City are under fire, due to cuts in the 2009-2010 city budget. The police department narrowly escaped layoffs, but the Kansas City law enforcement budget was cut by $15 million. So what impact will budget cuts have on violent crime in Kansas City? KCUR's Susan Wilson checked in with Major Anthony El, commander of the East Patrol Division of the Kansas City Misssouri Police Department.
While the police department faces cuts, City Hall is also cutting back on some of its efforts to prevent violence. It's dissolved the long-standing mediation program intended to help residents resolve disputes in the community. Instead, it's referring people to four other area mediation centers that provide similar services. And, Aim4Peace, a new violence prevention program that tries to intervene in potential homicides, is also in danger of being shut down, while it searches for outside funding. The program was started with funds from the health levy; council members said that money was intended for indigent health care providers. Others say the program repeats the efforts of existing organizations. Researchers from the University of Kansas are tracking the program, and report that its outreach workers have intervened in 22 conflicts since the program began more than a year ago.
Meanwhile, a neighborhood institution - the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, has recently been re-vamped. How can these groups keep the momentum in efforts to reduce violent crime as the summer approaches? We asked former city councilman Alvin Brooks, the founder of the Ad Hoc Group against Crime, and Patricia Williams and John Samuels, of Aim4Peace.