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Jackson County Prosecutor Won't Wait Any Longer To Help Gun Violence Survivors

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced a new victims services program focused on survivors of gun violence.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says gun violence survivors don't just fall through the cracks.

"They're not cracks. They're gaping holes in our criminal justice system," she says.

That's why Baker, along with the AdHoc Group Against Crime and Jackson County COMBAT, has launched a new program called Caring for Crime Survivors.

"I've stood on bloody streets, and I have begged people, pleaded, and sometimes angrily asked people to come forward, and help me solve crime," Baker says. "We can't do it without them. But we don't offer anything back to them."

She says before a case is filed, and even if a case is never filed, Caring for Crime Survivors will go door-to-door to reach survivors. The group will offer in-home counseling, criminal justice support and minor home repairs after a shooting. There's also a victim services hotline, 816-842-8467, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

With 500 non-fatal shootings in 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri, alone, Baker says the group can't reach everyone — especially not with a team of three dedicated staff and limited funding. Jackson County COMBAT has provided $100,000, and Baker is contributing funds from her office's budget. They've sought funding from the Justice Department and the Missouri Department of Public Safety but have not been successful.

"We didn't want to wait any longer," Baker says.

She announced the program at a news conference Wednesday morning, but the group launched in January. Since then, it has worked with 10 families. 

AdHoc director Damon Daniel says one woman he met was afraid of sitting in her living room after a small child had been killed in a drive-by shooting years ago. More recently, a bullet came through her own front window in a drive-by shooting. Daniel says they were able to work with her to address her fears — as well as repair her windows, which was a daunting feat for someone on fixed income.

"When they get a knock at their door, and see that the Prosecutor's office and AdHoc is there, that's new to them. They hadn't had that before," Daniel says. "One woman expressed that she's not used to receiving help."

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

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