Editorial: Fixing a deeper problem

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Addressing crime at the Country Club Plaza

By Stephen Cook

When one hears of ‘Kansas City’, usually things such as barbeque, the Chiefs, the Kauffman Center and the Country Club Plaza come to mind. Generally, this does not include thoughts of crime and danger.

Now, after seemingly random strings of events over the course of this winter, the ongoing issue of crime in KC has resurfaced. Likewise, the future of the Plaza becomes even more gray as visitors and shop owners are left wondering what is in their best interest.

Although crime on the plaza has been an issue in varying capacities for years, it is reaching a breaking point where Kansas City’s Plaza could end up with a similar story as Bannister Mall or Indian Springs Shopping Center.

The higher-ups of KCMO say they are listening, preparing ways to handle the issue.

One announced plan of action by Kansas City law enforcement proposed detaining unruly youths in a detention room at a nearby community center. The troublemakers would stay here until their parents or guardians picked them up.

The problem with this, though, is that more serious action needs to be taken. Both by the police and the community.

In an article published by the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté expressed concern about the magnitude of this issue.

“This issue is way bigger than the police,” he said. “We have to do more to involve more people to find ways to minimize disruptions and not displace the kids to other areas.”

Though law enforcement can play a major part in sending a message to troublesome youths, the thought process behind the disruptions and acts of violence is essentially the root of the problem. The social influences on young individuals greatly shapes the way that they think, grow, and eventually act.

This is a role where the community becomes involved — schools, parents, siblings, relatives, mentors should think about those they come in contact with and seek to make a positive difference. This goes far beyond crime on the Plaza; if we started to care more for others the whole state and country could change.

However, law enforcement can also send a strong message by taking action. By arresting those who become dangerously violent and placing them in a juvenile detention program, others will see what really happens. They won’t just get sent to a community center; they could wind up in jail.

Law enforcement faces a sticky situation in which there is a delicate balance; members of the KCMOPD have to ensure their actions are just and proper as well. If they overreact, Kansas City will be nationally criticized. If they underreact and the crime continues, then, likewise, the city will be criticized.

This isn’t an issue of racism, it is an issue of doing what is right for the city. Individuals — regardless of what color their skin is or the number of years they’ve lived — should be aware of their actions.

Should this be realized, crime will not only go down, but the the community as a whole will improve and Kansas City will continue its tradition as a city of greatness; a place we are proud to call home.

Contact Stephen Cook, editor-in-chief, at scook35@jccc.edu.

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