Creating A New Normal

New Normal

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Back in April and May there was a lot of talk about “returning to normal” this summer. But summer is now waning—officially over next week—and the pandemic remains an omnipresent threat that continues to impact nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we must seize the opportunities this adversity presents. Perhaps, we should start by defining what we want “normal” to be in our own community going forward.

First, let’s not accept as normal the summer months being a killing season. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, 70 homicides were committed in Kansas City, and another 223 bullet-to-skin shootings happened. Those are appalling numbers. We have failed if we ever begin to normalize so much blood being spilled in acts of violence.

One Public Heallth Crisis On Top Of Another



Across the nation, violent crime rates have fluctuated dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic—up in many cities, down in a few. The anxiety, frustration, economic hardship, boredom have all made for a combustible mix. Eruptions in violence have coincided with outbreaks of the virus, creating one public health crisis on top of another.

Increased violence has almost always led to calls for law enforcement to “do something about it.” However, let’s be blunt here: police agencies across the nation must hear all these calls for social justice and reform, if they are to re-establish trust in the communities they serve. Police officers are put into tense, dangerous situations every hour of everyday, and that is bound to affect them mentally and physically. Adding safeguards, like an “Early Warning System” to identify when an officer’s behavior starts to show signs of secondary trauma or volatility, is essential. 

Silence Can Truly Be Deadly



At the same time, so-called “street justice” only leads to more innocent lives being destroyed. I speak from experience when I say silence can truly be deadly. If you’ve got a tip that could lead to a violent criminal being taken off the streets in your neighborhood, share it. You can do so without speaking directly to the police.

The information you provide could prevent the next victim from being someone you know or love.

You can also report police misconduct/excessive force directly to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Together, we can make “normal” mean something better. Let’s enter the fall committed to ending 2020 with our community—every neighborhood—on the rise, a safer place to call home.

COMBAT Director Vince Ortega
COMBAT Director Vince Ortega
We Are All In This Together

In This Together



All of us need to work together to establish a “new normal.” That’s why COMBAT will continue funding law enforcement efforts that are directed at violent criminals and drug traffickers, but also funding for agencies that provide services for the victims of violence, as well as treatment for those suffering from drug addiction and trauma. Some of our agencies also work with ex-offenders to help them become integrated back into society and to get their lives on track—not only for their direct benefit, but to also reduce recidivism and make our communities safer.

We are truly in this together. That’s why COMBAT is going to keep STRIVIN’. Through the Striving Together to Reduce Violence In Neighborhoods initiative we are literally bringing together school administrators, social service agencies, faith-based organizations, family court caseworkers, police officials, prosecutors  and concerned citizens to address—together—the underlying issues that spark violence and other crime in our neighborhoods. No one person or organization alone can solve these problems. It takes a comprehensive approach to reduce violence and drug abuse. 

The STRIVIN initiative is breaking silos and using all the resources these agencies can provide to help neighborhoods at the grassroots level. To date this initiative has shown significant impact and real outcomes.

STRIVING To Reduce Violence In Neighborhoods

What Are We Going To Do?



This all-encompassing approach, I believe, has to become the new norm. “What are WE going to do about violence and drug abuse, and how and when are we going to implement our collaborative strategy?” That has to be the new mantra.

I’m proud that during the pandemic COMBAT has just kept on STRIVIN’—proud of my COMBAT staff and the agencies with which we work. We have used ZOOM to meet, share information, exchange ideas, seek solutions and, above all, take steps to implement the solutions. We’re always focusing on the big picture, but often times addressing the specific needs of a single family who is struggling.

Ending 2020 On The Rise



Our agencies have met the challenges COVID-19 has posed, using technology to continue counseling services, participating in and hosting food drives, and proving you can practice social distancing while still reaching out to your community and neighbors. I can’t help but be encouraged working with people who are dedicating their lives to improving the lives of others in Jackson County.

Together, we can make “normal” mean something better. Let’s enter the fall committed to ending 2020 with our community—every neighborhood—on the rise, a safer place to call home.
No one person or organization alone can solve these problems. It takes a comprehensive approach to reduce violence and drug abuse.