COMBAT program launched Friday - hopes to get people to speak ou - KCTV5

COMBAT program launched Friday - hopes to get people to speak out about crime

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Jeanene Kiesling/KCTV Jeanene Kiesling/KCTV

Jackson County is launching an anti-violence initiative to help curb violent crime throughout the community - the program is called COMBAT.

Part of this new campaign includes putting up yard signs all over the neighborhood that say, "Don't Look the Other Way. Step up. Speak up."

"We need your help. We need your eyes and ears in the field. Without your assistance, we can't solve crimes," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp.

The idea that speaking up about a crime is taboo is a problem that has plagued crime-riddled areas for years. The Jackson County Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax - or COMBAT - group hopes to change that belief.

"I'm not looking for snitches, I'm looking for witnesses," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker.

The new anti-violence effort, which was kicked off Friday, had more than 100 volunteers and officials walking door-to-door, putting up signs and talking with residents, spreading the word to step up and speak up.

Frederick Johnson's brother was killed in 2010 and, to this day, no one knows who was behind it. While he's not convinced the latest anti-violence campaign will finally be the one to make a difference, he said he's willing to give it a try.

"We aren't making no accomplishment without trying, so I think we should just try to see what it brings out," he said.

Candace Cheatem agreed with Johnson.

"We have to keep trying, our kids are worth it, our community is worth it," she said.

But anyone who has lived in the Kansas City metro for any amount of time has most likely seen anti-violence campaigns before.

Friday authorities said this initiative is very much like the 2006 one called Silence is Killing Us. They said that program worked, doubling calls to the TIPS Hotline and helping solve some serious crimes. But the program fizzled out.

COMBAT plans to keep this campaign going.

"What's going to be different about this is it's got to be sustained. It can't just be a 2013 issue - it's got to go into '14, '15, '16 and with Legislator (Dan) Tarwater here that commitment is to do this in the long term. This becomes a permanent project for COMBAT," said Mike Sanders, Jackson County executive. "The message may modify a bit, but this is something that continues going forward."

Officials and volunteers hoped to knock on about 50,000 doors in the upcoming months.

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