COMBAT News

Contact COMBAT Communications Administrator Joe Loudon • jloudon@jacksongov.org • 816-881-4337
  1. The Boxing Ballerina

    The Boxing Ballerina


    She is a graceful ballerina. Floats like a butterfly. She also throws a nice punch. Stings like a bee. Meet Brijhana Epperson—an aspiring dancer and boxer, a true “Rising Star,” a little girl with big dreams. Those dreams are being nurtured through the COMBAT-funded youth programs at the Whatsoever Community Center in Kansas City. Bri envisions herself representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, then someday opening a combination dance studio/boxing gym called “B2,” short for The Boxing Ballerina. It'll be a place where girls will be taught dance and self-defense—to plié and to counterpunch.
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  1. Doing More Than Patching Bullet Holes: A Trauma Surgeon's Perspective On Gun Violence

    'I Opened My Eyes More Widely...'


    A case that began with what sounded like a funny announcement in the Emergency Department—“GSW to butt, ETA 5 minutes”—has forever changed Dr. Robert Winfield, a trauma surgeon at KU Medical Center. He writes about his experience treating gunshot wounds and how he is now willing “to speak to anyone, anywhere, at any time, who wants to talk about gun violence and its root causes.” We consider his first-person account a must-read, but be warned that it does include graphic details that some readers might find disturbing. The case that started with the “GSW to butt” announcement ended with a heartbreaking encounter with a grieving mother: “The anguish she expressed when I told her of his death was like a bullet fired into my soul.”
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  1. Hope Hangout

    Hope Has A New Hangout


    Since COMBAT launched the Hope Hangout in 2015—right across the street from Ruskin High School in south Kansas City—the program’s director has mentored more than 300 children. Now Marva Moses expects to mentor more students than ever before as the Hope Hangout is “taken to another level” with its move to a new location: inside the Hickman Mills alternative school, Burke Academy. The Hangout’s children affectionally call Moses “Mama Marva” as she teaches them life lessons about respect, responsibility, resolving disputes, setting goals, making plans and pursuing dreams. “For some of the students at the Hope Hangout, Marva is a second mom,” said Hickman Mills’ Deputy Superintendent of Student Services. “For a few of them, she is their first mom.”
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  1. State Line Arrest


    County Drug Task Force 'Striking' At Criminals Crossing State Lines


    The COMBAT-funded Jackson County Drug Task Force has joined a federally-formed Strike Force that will pursue drug traffickers and violent criminals who crisscross Greater Kansas City’s state line. “Crime does not stop at the state line and neither does the Strike Force,” said Stephen McAllister, the U.S. Attorney for  Kansas. For years the Jackson County Task Force has been seizing drugs that can be traced to Mexican cartels, including 144 pounds of methamphetamine during one recent search. These international cases have had the Task Force working with federal authorities on a regular basis, making the Task Force a logical fit for this initiative targeting “drug trafficking organizations that are making the streets of metro Kansas City less safe and more violent.” 
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  1. Focus On PTSD Care

    Project RISE - Part 1

    Keeping Surivors Alive!
    A new COMBAT-funded program at Truman Medical Center is focused on treating all the wounds—seen and unseen—a gunshot can cause. Studies have tracked what becomes of gunshot wound (GSW) survivors long-term. They’ve discovered some alarming trends, including the high risks of survivors being shot again and eventually dying in another firearms-related incident. The TMC program, Project RISE, seeks to identify shooting victims with severe PTSD symptoms and provide early intervention. TMC doctors and nurses can start administering “psychological first aid” the moment a wounded patient has been physically stabilized.
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  1. Adapting Mass Disaster Methods

    Project RISE - Part 2

    From 9/11 To Katrina To GSW Survivors
    Suffering a gunshot wound is obviously a traumatizing experience. At Truman Medical Center, the staff is adapting methods developed to treat the survivors of the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina and other mass disasters to help GSW victims cope with their PTSD symptoms. “We understand the need for more immediate intervention to treat people beyond the gunshot wound, itself,” says Dr. Joah Williams, a clinical psychologist with the TMC Behavioral Health Unit. A full recovery entails treating both the physical and psychological harm done.
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  1. Treating Veterans Better For PTSD and Better Treating Everyone

    Project RISE - Part 3

    Vets Spark Progress On PTSD 
    During the Civil War, amputations were routinely performed to “treat” arm and leg wounds. In both World Wars doctors observed the psychological toll combat wounds had on “shell-shocked” soldiers. Then Vietnam veterans—and women displaying similar symptoms after suffering domestic violence or sexual assault—pushed for more research to be done. In 1980 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was finally recognized as an official diagnosis. Early intervention to treat PTSD is being widely viewed as the latest progression in the overall treatment of gunshot wound survivors, whether they sustained their wounds in a war zone or a crime committed in our community.
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  1. DART_Day-3


    Just Another DART Day


    After being told to vacate his house, a Kansas City man winds up thanking the Jackson County Drug Abatement Response Team (DART). He realized his home was a deathtrap waiting to be sprung. Inspectors found numerous fire hazardous and other threats in the home, prompting the fire marshal to declare, “There’s no way we can let anybody stay in here.” DART addresses problem houses like this, which have been involved in drug or violent activity, to help improve the quality of life in entire neighborhoods throughout the county.
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  1. Meth Packages Being Pulled From Inside Tire

    Equivalent Of More Than 250,000 'Doses' (144lbs.) Of Meth Seized


    The COMBAT-Funded Jackson County Drug Task Force seized 144 pounds of methamphetamine during a recent search of a Kansas City property. The drugs, valued at more than $12 million, were hidden in metal containers that were sealed inside four tires. Task Force Officer-In-Charge Dan Cummings believes the meth—the largest amount the Task Force has ever recovered at one time—was probably within a day of being distributed for sale throughout the metropolitan area. "I don't think anyone was going to sit on that much meth for very long," he said.
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  1. ARCHIVES
County Prosecutor's Office Releases Initial Audit Of COMBAT Financial Practices • September 18, 2019
When a judge ruled last year that the Jackson County Legislature had the legal authority to move oversight of COMBAT from the County Executive’s Office to the Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker immediately called for an independent audit of the anti-crime program. That audit has now been completed by a Kansas City CPA firm, which found a number of concerning financial issues related to COMBAT from the time prior the Prosecutor’s Office assuming oversight. The firm’s full final report can be downloaded here.
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COMBAT Initiative Focuses On The Need For Joint Effort To Reduce Violence In Neighborhoods • August 29, 2019
This COMBAT initiative brings together school administrators, police officers, elected officials, mental health professionals, social workers, faith-based leaders and concerned citizens to address violence in Jackson County’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. With a focus on developing a collaborative, comprehensive and coordinated plan in each “hot spot,” STRIVIN’ recognizes that no one individual or single agency can “save a neighborhood.” It takes working together—striving together—to make any neighborhood a safe place to call home.
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Reducing Violence Requires Working Together • August 7, 2019
As we do the grim calculations (nine homicides in 10 days, 87 thus far this year) let’s remember a name goes with each of those numbers.  As we mourn those taken from us, we cannot expect any one person or group alone—not the police, the courts, the schools—to reduce the violence in our neighborhoods. It’s going to take working together to make a real and meaningful difference.
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One Arrest Leads To Others In Case Illustrating Cartel Activity In Jackson County & Beyond • July 19, 2019
What started off as a seemingly simple case—a Kansas City, Kan., undercover police officer asking the Jackson County Drug Task Force with assistance when a drug deal made in Kansas was to be completed in Missouri—turns into a months-long investigation involving multiple federal and local agencies. When it was completed, multiple indictments were made as the case illustrated the reach of Mexican cartels into Jackson County and beyond.
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Celebratory Gunshots Pose Deadly Threat • June 27, 2019
Would you take gun in hand, close your eyes and randomly start pulling the trigger, firing bullets at what you can’t see? That is essentially what people do when they fire shots into the air to “celebrate” holidays like Independence Day. This unlawful behavior is reckless, always dangerous and potentially lethal.
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COMBAT Saved My Life • June 21, 2019
I'm convinced that I would be back in prison or dead, if I had not gotten drug treatment through a COMBAT-funded program in 2015. Now today I am working to help others start their recovery journeys. The "mess" I had made out of my life can now be a "message" for someone else going through addiction. I want to give them hope, let them know if a guy like me can get clean and stay clean, they can too.
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Ongoing 'Demand' For Meth Continues To Make It Jackson County's No. 1 Illegal Drug Problem • June 11, 2019

Each year throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the Jackson County Drug Task Force and other law enforcement agencies would shut down dozens of meth labs—sometimes more than 100 labs in a single year. With these local supply lines being severed, Mexican cartels have stepped in to fill the void and meet the ongoing “demand” for methamphetamine. The Task Force is striving daily to stop these cartels from feeding Jackson County’s meth addiction—still the county’s No. 1 drug problem.
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Jackson County Drug Task Force Changes With The Times • June 4, 2019
The Jackson County Drug Task Force is now routinely engaged in joint investigations with federal authorities as they pursue drug supply lines across city limits and county lines, as well as state and international borders. Their objective is to "get the head of the snake," rather than just chasing the tail. With several of their cases having roots that trace back to Mexican cartels, the Task Force confiscated more than $16 million in illegal drugs last year.
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Trauma Surgeons Have Seen Gun VIolence Carnage Up Close—And It Is Personal • May 22, 2019
The words of the trauma surgeons who had threated countless gunshot wounds carried a lot of weight during a KU Medical Center symposium about the epidemic of firearm violence across the nation (and in our own community). But the one non-surgeon who spoke during the day-long event really struck a chord when she said, “Our kids are worrying about being shot in their schools. How many are going to have PTSD? Our kids are thinking like kids in a war-torn nation."
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Sheffield Place Anti-Bullying Program Starts With Kindness • May 9, 2019
When she began developing Sheffield Place’s anti-bullying program 2½ years ago, Heather Berry deliberately sought to avoid focusing solely on the negative: Don’t be mean. Don’t hurt others. Don’t be a bully. Instead, “Miss Heather” emphasizes the positive qualities that can help anyone any age be a better person. The program starts with children as young as 3. Sheffield Place serves homeless mothers and their children. The background of 75% of its clients includes domestic violence.
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Teaching KIds About 'Talking To Strangers' In The Digitial Work • May 9, 2019

Their safety is on the line! Be sure your kids understand "don't talk to strangers" applies to the digital world. Predators are on the prowl online. Kids (like other people) often share too much personal info via social media and other digital content.
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The Voice Of Experience—He Really Gets It • May 1, 2019
Larry Beaty speaks with the voice of experience—the experience of being a recovering alcoholic (sober since 1981) and longtime treatment counselor—as he stresses utilizing COMBAT's resources where they are needed most, in Jackson County's "hot spots."
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'Violence & Drugs Don't Pay Attention To Zip Codes' • April 25, 2019

New COMBAT Commisisoner John B. Boyd stresses the need for county-wide effort to find solutions to the county-wide problems of drug abuse and violent crime. He also believes COMBAT can help address the issue of prescription drug addiciton.
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Dawna J. Shumant Appointed COMBAT Deputy Director • January 25, 2019
Jackson County COMBAT has appointed Dawna Shumate its new Deputy Director . She is an experienced treatment and prevention specialist who also has worked extensively in community engagement as director of the county's ombudsman's office.
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Vince Ortega Appointed COMBAT Director • October 29, 2018
Vince Ortega has assumed the duty's of COMBAT Director, having already stressed the need for the program to be more connected to the community through his work as Deputy Director. He previously served 30 years with the Kansas City Police Department.
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