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'We have got to not settle arguments with gunfire,' says Kansas City's police chief

A woman wearing a police uniform gestures with her right hand while talking at a microphone inside a radio studio.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves speaks on KCUR's Up To Date on Aug. 25, 2023.

Since she was appointed head of the Kansas City Police Department eight months ago, Chief Stacey Graves said, reducing violent crime continues to be the top priority.

A major driver of the city's rising homicide rate, according to Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves, is the accessibility of guns and the mindset of local communities.

The city struggles to reduce violent crime because "everyone is armed," and disagreements quickly turn to "gunplay," Graves told Up to Date.

Many deadly altercations occur between familiar parties, not at random, Graves said, which is why the department is engaging with at-risk individuals to discuss conflict resolution skills.

"I think you can have gun laws in the works, but if you have a community arming themselves, and settling conflict with firearms," Graves said, "it's still going to be there. And that's where the change has to start."

Graves discussed community engagement, what is fueling gun violence and the prevalence of trigger modifications known as "switches."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.
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