The Kansas City Mayor is calling on the community to drive violence out.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James has written a letter to concerned students, saying that the entire community “has to work together to drive those who commit violence out.”
“This isn’t something that police can do,” says James. “The police are reliant on people talking to them, people who come forward as witnesses. The police arrive after the fact, we need people who saw things that were going on at the time. That requires community engagement and community involvement.”
There were 125 Kansas City homicides in 2016, according to the “Kansas City Star”. The newspaper reports that’s the highest number since 2008.
James says it would be great “if we all lived by the golden rule of treating others as we want to be treated.”
“The problem is that we have a lot of people who, for whatever reason, some of them are simply hopeless and don’t believe they’ve got any future. Others of them are maybe just flat-out evil,” James says. “But, at the end of the day the result is the same. People get hurt and killed.”
In November, television station KCTV reported on a letter that Montrail Ross sent to Mayor James, after Ross’ eight-year-old brother was killed in a shooting. Montrail urged the Mayor to “stop the gun shooting”, and to take criminals off the street.
James tells Missourinet he’s written a letter to Montrail and to his classmates, who also wrote. The Mayor told them the entire community must work together, “to drive those who commit violence out”.
James’ office has released a copy of the mayor’s letter to Missourinet. That letter also urges Montrail to stay away from those who use violence “to solve problems”.
James, who’s served as mayor since 2011, says cooperation from citizens is essential to solving murders and other crimes. He adds that Kansas City Police and the minority communities have to work to find ways to bring trust back into the relationship.
“And that means that you have to really get out of the cars and go talk to people and understand where they’re coming from,” James says. “And I think that our chief of police (Darryl Forté) has been very good about trying to get his officers to do that.”
Mayor James says police rely on witnesses and need community involvement.
He also says drive-by shootings in the city are increasing, including this month’s highly-publicized daytime incident on a crowded street.
“Drive-by shootings in the city have gone up tremendously,” James says. “They’re up 51 percent over a year ago and that’s always scary because they’re harder to catch because they’re mobile and it’s kind of a hit-and-run deal.”
The March daytime drive-by shooting was captured on a motorist’s dashcam, and has been aired on Kansas City television newscasts. James tells Missourinet he’s spoken to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker about the incident.
Mayor James is expected to address crime during his upcoming State of the City Address. It will take place on March 28 at 6 pm at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.