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Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith Defers Comment On Effectiveness Of Aim4Peace

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Peggy Lowe
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KCUR 89.3
Back in April, members of Aim4Peace canvassed a neighborhood on Kansas City's East Side after a shooting at 45th and Cleveland.

When it comes to violence in Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Rick Smith says that, more often than not, someone knows what's going on before it ever happens. 

To that end, the KCPD recently announced a substantial increase in rewards for homicide tips, from $2,000 to $5,000. Smith says the police need help from the community to prevent violent crime.

That's also a goal of the Kansas City Health Department's Aim4Peace program. But, Smith says he can't comment on the effectiveness of the violence prevention group's work. 

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Credit Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Board of Police Commissioners president Leland Shurin joins KC Police Chief Rick Smith on KCUR's Up to Date.

"It's totally independent from the police. I know nothing about it," Smith says.

"I don't know of them," says Leland Shurin, president of the Board of Police Commissioners. 

Aim4Peace has been around since 2008. With a team of violence "interrupters" and neighborhood canvassers, it takes a community-level public health approach to reducing shootings and homicides. 

Director Tracie Cole says that they've had a longstanding partnership with the KCPD, including a police major appointed to their management team by former Police Chief Darryl Forte.

"This is a new chief, new board composition," Cole says. "So I look at it as an opportunity for us to educate and to begin to restrengthen those partnerships."

Cole says she thinks the groups working to prevent violence in this city -- including the Kansas City Police and the KC No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) -- are still making strides toward working together effectively.

"It's a constant evolution," Cole says. "I think it's a matter of communication."

A new year-to-date report shows that Aim4Peace has mediated 285 conflicts, and hosted 196 community classes on topics like conflict resolution, job readiness and gun violence impact.

Cole says she hopes to get onto Smith's calendar by January to meet and share some of the group's progress.

The headline of this story has been changed for clarity.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @_tudhope, and email her at andreat@kcur.org.

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