Kansas City To Receive 'Significant Assistance' From Justice Department To Fight Crime

Jun 20, 2017

Kansas City has been selected to participate in a federal initiative to combat violent crime.
Credit Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

Updated, 2:22 p.m. Tuesday: Kansas City is among 12 cities that will receive "significant assistance" from the Department of Justice to fight violent crime. 

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday morning at a national summit on violent crime reduction efforts. 

The cities will become part of the new National Public Safety Partnership, officially launched Tuesday.

What form  the federal assistance might take is still unclear. In a statement, Sessions says that fighting crime is a top priority for the Trump administration. 

“The Department of Justice will work with American cities suffering from serious violent crime problems. There is no doubt that there are many strategies that are proven to reduce crime. Our new National Public Safety Partnership program will help these communities build up their own capacity to fight crime, by making use of data-driven, evidence-based strategies tailored to specific local concerns, and by drawing upon the expertise and resources of our Department,” Sessions says. 

Sessions' pledge to help came as a surprise to many local officials, including Kansas City Mayor Sly James. James says Tuesday's announcement was scant on details, and it would be up to the Board of Police Commissioners to figure out next steps.

"Whatever resources we have will hopefully be used in a way that actually helps, but what would really help is if we didn't have guns flooding the city all the time," James says.

Councilman Quinton Lucas says although the city is still waiting for more detail, it can never have enough resources to fight crime. 

"I think to the extent that we can have further involvement with the ATF, FBI or U.S. Attorney's office and others in really making sure we're targeting folks that are running guns, that are involved in gang issues, etc. it's going to be key to fighting our violent crime issue," Lucas says. 

The other cities that have been selected are Birmingham, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Jackson, Tennessee; Toledo, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Buffalo, New York;  Houston, Texas; Lansing, Michigan; and Springfield, Illinois. 

KCUR's Elle Moxley contributed to this report.

Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster and a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig