2016 COMBAT Awards

2016 COMBAT Award Winners


Start Right Stay Right Award: Blue Springs CYOU Program
Albert Riederer Excellence In Public Service Award: Brad Halsey, Chief of Police of Independence & Major Joseph McHale, Project Manager of Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) 
Step Up Award: Darren Brown, Wisdom Cries
Influential Youth Award: Humberto "Bert" Garcia, Mattie Rhodes Center
New Beginnings Award: Jeremiah Murphy, First Call

County Executive Frank White, Jr.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Through the hard work and dedication of the programs and agencies it funds, COMBAT is creating Action, Hope and Change in Jackson County.

Jackson County Executive welcomed the honored guests to the 2016 COMBAT Awards ceremony, held October 26 in the Truman Forum Auditorium at the Kansas City Public Library on the Plaza.

Over the last three years, COMBAT has put a focus on anti-violence initiatives and motivating agencies to explore new programming to address violent crime in our communities. 

“I remember what it was like to experience the riots in Kansas City in 1968, and I know the toll that can take on the community,” White said. “We know that COMBAT is a vital part of our success in improving the quality of life for everyone who lives in Jackson County.”

COMBAT Director Dr. Stacey Daniels-Young emceed the ceremony.
Jeremiah Murphy

New Beginnings Award

Jeremiah Murphy

Jeremiah’s experience with alcohol began toward the end of high school. He believed that binge drinking was a rite of passage in order to secure a place among certain social groups. Years following, he began experimenting with drugs. 

The decision to seek help in recovery came after many failed attempts to limit his consumption. After coming home from a work trip intoxicated, Jeremiah’s wife had had enough and decided it was her best interest to leave. Realizing that parts of his life were crumbling, he accepted the fact that he needed help with his problem.

Jeremiah emailed First Call seeking help.  Within 5 minutes, he received a phone call from a counselor and within 20 minutes he was having the first honest conversation with someone in regards to his challenges with substance abuse. He contributes the first year of sobriety to the COMBAT-funded program of recovery and support of First Call.

Influential Youth Award

Humberto “Bert” Garcia

Bert is not only a responsible and dedicated, but a young man who has a heart for helping others. Bert was raised in the Historic Northeast Neighborhood. He began attending the COMBAT-funded EXPLORE program when he was in 7th grade at James Elementary. He continued EXPLORE through high school and discovered his love for music and the power of using music as a nonviolent outlet for self-expression. 

After graduation, Bert decided to ‘give back’ and help other youth in the community. He started teaching lessons, performing, formed a band and even started working with another Mattie Rhodes program, Soccer for Success. His work with youth at Mattie Rhodes Center has provided him with an additional learning experience, as well as the satisfaction of mentoring other youth and providing the support that he received while in the program.
Bert Garcia
Darren Brown

Step Up Award

Darren Brown

You almost have to see Darren Brown in action before a group of young gang members to understand his important role in violence reduction in our community.

Darren, founder and president of Wisdom Cries LLC, a non-profit organization dedicated to violence reduction and working against the mass incarceration of minorities in America, begs, pleads and cajoles these young people to try a new course in their life. Darren is a native of Kansas City. His life grew hard early when he had to take to the streets of Kansas City, not long after he was abandoned by his parents as young as 7. He became immersed in a life of drugs and violence that ended in his arrest by federal agents. That led him to prison, where he served 16 years in a variety of federal penitentiaries

Today, Brown spends his free time telling his story and attempting to help those who might be headed in a similar direction. He is remaking his life as a true-life testimonial to everything that violence reduction requires and everything that will be required to change our city’s reputation away from violence. Darren has published a book about his life, “Bug, Straight Talk.” He regularly speaks around the community and has volunteered regularly in KC schools and for the Kansas City No Violence Alliance or KC NoVA project.

Start Right Stay Right Award

Kerri Welch and Jessica Jackson

During the spring of 2015, Jessica discovered that there was an opportunity to work with elementary students during the summer through the Blue Springs School District Summer School Program. She took that idea to Kerri and together they developed and introduced a new program to the counselor at Thomas Ultican Elementary School. The Summer Outreach Services (SOS) program is designed to identify at-risk youth ages 7 thru 11 who attended summer school. This program continued in 2016 and was implemented to four more elementary summer schools. 

Students were referred to Jessica and Kerri for weekly one hour sessions. Topics covered were anger management, bullying, family issues and dynamics, self-esteem and divorce. This program improved the daily lives the target families and strengthened their family bonds.

Kerri and Jessica have also begun an additional service to students at both Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School. This is an invaluable assistance to both the students and staff at each of the schools and indicates the willingness of the CYOU counselors to serve our population student population and assist them in improving their lives.

Sergeant Allen Kintz of Blue Springs Police Department accepted the award on their behalf.
Blue Springs CYOU Program
Major Joe McHale

Albert Riederer Excellence in Public Service Award

Major Joe McHale

Major Joe McHale was the first project manager for the KC NoVA effort in Kansas City. With three other KCPD officers, he oversaw the earliest efforts of this new violence reduction program. In 2014, the effort produced a startling result: the lowest homicide total in four decades in Kansas City.

This was significant for a number of reasons, including the lives saved. The most important overall reason may be that KC NoVA demonstrated that it was possible to prevent violence, providing an important future direction for our community. Future success may require even more effort and tweaks to the strategies but the community can no longer dismiss the idea that violence is preventable. Joseph McHale and his success as the KC NoVA project manager demonstrated clearly that violence reduction can be achieved.

Albert Riederer Excellence in Public Service Award

Chief Brad Halsey

Chief Halsey has served the Independence community as a police officer for 24 years. He introduced the Crime Overview Response (CORE) program in Independence. CORE is an intelligence-based policing philosophy that utilizes all possible resources to focus on specific crimes and criminal behaviors. It is credited with having been instrumental in helping reduce crime in Independence. 

As Deputy Chief, Halsey led a community-based process including mental health professionals, the Independence School District, community agencies and neighborhood representatives to develop a new Targeted Neighborhood Imitative to reduce crime in Independence. The result of this planning was to enhance the department’s Crisis Intervention Team. This team works to immediately respond to those with mental health and/or substance problems, and proactively keep in touch with them to keep them out of the hospital and the criminal justice system.

Chief Halsey has worked in patrol, the Investigations Unit, Drug Enforcement Unit and Special Operations. His experience also includes special assignments such as gang, arson investigations, tactical operations and the federal fugitive task force. He currently serves on the Homeland Security Coordinating Committee.
Chief Brad Halsey