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Kansas City anti-crime group says it cut homicides in Santa Fe neighborhood: 'A glimmer of hope'

A recent homicide scene being investigated by the Kansas City Police in this file photo.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A homicide scene being investigated by the Kansas City Police Department.

A little more than a year in, KC 360 says its method of bringing government agencies, police and community groups together to target violent crime has decreased homicides and non-fatal shootings in the Santa Fe area, its first target neighborhood. But leaders say more work has to be done.

In just over a year, KC 360 — a group dedicated to reducing violent crime — says that gun violence and homicides have decreased significantly in the Santa Fe neighborhood of Kansas City.

According to data from the Kansas City Police Department, about 20% of all homicides in Kansas City happen within a 4-mile radius that includes the Santa Fe neighborhood. Last year, nine homicides and 14 non-fatal shootings occurred in the area. This year, there have been two homicides and 13 non-fatal shootings so far.

KC 360 — run by KC Common Good, the KCPD, Kansas City government, clergy members, the Santa Fe Neighborhood Association and antiviolence organizations — believes that the nearly 78% decrease in homicides is due to its efforts.

“This is an area of our city in East Kansas City that has for years been divested,” Rev. Darren Faulker, a leader with KC 360 and KC Common Good, said at a press conference Tuesday. “But what we are demonstrating today is what can happen when you invest in a community.”

Faulker said the group has spent nearly 7,000 hours and millions of dollars in the Santa Fe neighborhood to decrease violent crime.

The organization employs a “village strategy,” so far only enacted in the Santa Fe neighborhood, which targets crime using a multifaceted approach that includes conflict resolution training, outreach to non-fatal shooting victims and those likely to be shot, beautification and trash cleanup of the area, canvassing and stakeholder meetings.

At the weekly meetings, residents meet with members of the KCPD and other stakeholder groups to discuss the status of violent crime in the area and how to address it. According to KC 360, 62% of meeting participants said their trust in police has increased over the last year.

Marquita Taylor, president of the Santa Fe Neighborhood Association, says KC 360 has been integral in bringing more organizations to the community to help with whatever is needed, including massive neighborhood cleanups and counseling after violent crime occurs.

“When I go to those 360 meetings, it is the most heartwarming thing I can think of because they're there and they're committed,” Taylor said. “They want to make an impact, not just in Santa Fe, but the rest of the city. … I want to make sure this isn’t a finality for Santa Fe. We got too much more to do.”

Ryana Parks-Shaw, 5th district council member and mayor pro tem, helped pass a $30 million violence prevention investment that helps fund nonprofits. KC 360 received some of that money and put it towards its efforts in the Santa Fe neighborhood. At the press conference, Parks-Shaw called on businesses and community members to take action.

“Everybody has an opportunity to play a role in improving our city,” Parks-Shaw said. “Unfortunately, in this region, across the country, we are seeing unprecedented numbers in violent crimes. While we have a small glimmer of hope in a historically bad year of homicides in Kansas City, the evidence is there that if we work together, we can solve this. We must work together. Please play your part.”

KC 360 will continue its work in Santa Fe and hopes to replicate its efforts in other neighborhoods around Kansas City. Its upcoming projects in the neighborhood include bulky trash cleanup, bimonthly community canvassing, adding speed bumps to high-traffic streets and fixing apartment buildings that need repair.

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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