- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City recorded 180 homicide victims in 2020, the highest number of killings in a single year in its history, as gun violence surged nationwide.

The last time the city saw anywhere close to as many homicides was 2017, when it recorded 155 killings, including four fatal police shootings, The Kansas City Star reports.

In addition to the homicide record, 2020 also marked a dramatic surge in nonfatal shootings. More than 620 people were shot and survived - a statistic that Mayor Quinton Lucas described as “crazy” and “embarrassing.”

The city’s current response to killings is “not smart,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. If the approach doesn’t change, she said, Kansas City will continue to have a “disgusting homicide rate” year after year.

Baker was the chief architect of a previous anti-violence strategy, KC NoVA, which garnered national attention after killings dropped to 86 in 2014, the fewest in Kansas City in more than four decades. The police department, under Chief Rick Smith, abandoned the strategy after he took the helm in 2017.



In September, Lucas announced a new effort aimed at reducing violence called Reform Project KC. The focus is meant to be on prevention, intervention, enforcement and administrative reforms.

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