KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Some came to the Gregg-Klice Community Center Tuesday night expecting a discussion with members of the police department about curbing violent crime at 18th and Vine. That's how police described it when promoting the event. What they got was different, leaving some disappointed and others more optimistic.
It wasn’t an open mic, and it wasn’t specific to 18th and Vine. It was a moderator-led small discussion with a format that resembled speed dating without the dating, and it turned out to be as much about finding common ground as it was about solutions to crime.
Attendees sat around a series of small tables, uniformed police and civilians at each.
Moderators with the Center for Conflict Resolution took them through questions, then shared and discussed with the larger group.
“What emotions have you felt most often in the past year?” one moderator asked.
“I would say anxiety,” said Capt. Luther Young, who works an overnight shift. “It’s been a time of so much uncertainty.”
“A lot of hopelessness but at the same time a lot of hope,” said neighborhood resident Tyrone Flowers.
Other answers that came from more than one person were fear, anger and exhaustion.
They talked about what values served them to get through the tough year.
“Another major theme was respect, mutual respect,” one of the moderators reported to the larger group.
They then moved on to ideas for solutions.
“The best thing that I heard is that our neighborhood organizations need to be more active,” said longtime resident Faith Oliver.
One woman noted what seemed like a lack of community. She remembered fondly when kids could roam knowing their neighbors would co-parent and step in as needed, and likewise for police.
“Growing up we had police in the neighborhood. They knew the neighbors. They knew the children,” recalled Angela Wilson.
The format came from the Center for Conflict Resolution and took some by surprise.
“It was a little different. But I think anytime you come together as a group and are able to communicate and learn from what others are going through, it’s a positive thing,” said Flowers.
“It was not what I expected but it turned out to be very good communication,” said Wilson.
Young described the event as an effort to create “some avenues of communication” between police and residents.
“How do we learn from each other and these experiences?” he asked when describing what he took from it. “I think it’s something I would like to see continue.”
It was a small gathering -- about a dozen cops and two dozen civilians -- but some of the people who attended were neighborhood leaders, influencers you could say, who can spread what they learned.
A leader with the Center for Conflict Resolution said she hopes to have more session like it in the future.