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COMBAT 30th Anniversary
"ALL HANDS IN" — They put the "Community" in COMBAT. COMBAT staff, including (seated L-R) former Administrator Jim Nunnelly, former Executive Director Stacey Daniels Young and current Executive Director Vince Ortega, join several of COMBAT's program partners, COMBAT Commissioners, and members of law enforcement in celebrating the 30th anniversary of COMBAT becoming COMBAT.
Program For Reaching Milestone
Joe Loudon • COMBAT Communications Administrator
MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2023
Jackson County’s anti-crime program—among the first in the nation to not only increase enforcement but also support innovative prevention and treatment programs—got a new name in 1993. The County Legislature approved a special resolution Monday commemorating the 30th anniversary of COMBAT.
“COMBAT has really become essential to better serving our community,” stated Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who accepted the resolution, alongside COMBAT Executive Director Vince Ortega, former executive director Stacey Daniels Young and COMBAT’s first administrator, Jim Nunnelly. Representatives from many of the dozens of Jackson County non-profit organizations that receive funding from the COMmunity Backed Anti-Crime Tax were also in attendance.
‘A Vital Artery For Prevention & Treatment’
Prior to the Legislative meeting convening one of those community partners posed a question: “Where would this community be without COMBAT?”
“COMBAT is a vital artery for prevention and treatment, not just in Kansas City but throughout Jackson County,” said Branden Mims, executive director for Greater Impact and chief operating officer for the AdHoc Group Against Crime. “Violence can happen anywhere; overdoses are happening in both urban and rural areas. So, I really do think that is a pertinent question: Where would this community be without COMBAT?”
Former COMBAT Executive Director Stacey Daniels Young shares a laugh with the first-ever COMBAT Administrator Jim Nunnelly during Monday's presentation.
‘Doing More Than Just Fighting Drugs & Crime’
The County Legislature as a whole sponsored Monday’s Legislation. The resolution notes, in part, “COMBAT has for 30 years shifted the paradigm of the so-called ‘War On Drugs,’ from doing more than just fighting drugs and crime, to also helping people.” (Follow resolution text below this article.)
Donna Peyton, 2nd District At-Large Legislator and chair of the Legislature’s Anti-Crime Committee, congratulated COMBAT’s leadership and community partners, “for the life-saving work they’ve done.”
Nunnelly served as the first official COMBAT administrator from 1993 through 2008, with Daniels Youngs following him as executive director from 2009 until her 2017 retirement. During Monday’s legislative meeting, Prosecutor Peters Baker praised them and Ortega for their dedicated service.
Ortega was named COMBAT executive director in 2018, following a nationwide search, but his record of public service dates back decades. He spent 30 years with the Kansas City Police Department, retiring as a deputy chief in 2006, three years before becoming COMBAT’s deputy director.
“I was with the KCPD when COMBAT got started, so I have seen how it has evolved,” Ortega said. “It’s always been about improving public safety through prevention, treatment and law enforcement—not just law enforcement.”
First In The Nation
Jackson County became the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt a tax dedicated to reducing drug abuse and drug-related crime. The county’s voters first approved the tax in 1989, and they’ve since renewed it four times, mostly recently in 2016—with overwhelming 73.17% support. A 2009 renewal vote also expanded COMBAT’s mission to include violence prevention as the tax was officially reclassified as an anti-crime tax.
“COMBAT provides us resources not available in other counties our size, nearly all of which are struggling with illicit drugs and violence,” Peters Baker said. “Due to COMBAT we have more resources for helping crime survivors, for getting more people into substance use disorder treatment and for reaching more kids through a variety of innovative prevention programs.
“And, yes, we have more resources for enforcement. But since the beginning COMBAT has been a recognition of a basic fact: we can’t arrest our way out of these problems.”
New Funding Applications Being Accepted May 1 – June 29
The quarter-cent COMBAT sales tax generates about $30 million in revenue per year. In addition to providing crucial funding for local law enforcement agencies and the courts, COMBAT awards annual grants for nearly 100 prevention and treatment programs.
COMBAT’s window for accepting 2024 funding applications opens next Monday, May 1. Full details about applying are at jacksoncountycombat.com/funding.
“COMBAT-supported programs serve tens of thousands of men, women and children throughout Jackson County each year,” Ortega said, “and they have been for 30 years and counting.”
(L-R) Jackson County Legislator Donna Peyton (2nd District At-Large) reads the resolution as she presents it to COMBAT Executive Director Vince Ortega, former Executive Director Stacey Daniels Young, former COMBAT Administrator Jim Nunnelly and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
A RESOLUTION recognizing the creation of the Jackson County COMBAT program on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.
WHEREAS, in 1989 the Jackson County Legislature declared a “violent health epidemic” and, that same year, the voters of Jackson County made history by passing the nation’s first-ever tax dedicated to addressing the drug and crime crisis; and,
WHEREAS, while this tax increased support for law enforcement, it also resulted in new prevention and treatment programs, setting Jackson County apart from most other communities across the country that concentrated exclusively on more policing; and,
WHEREAS, this unique, comprehensive approach to reducing drug abuse and crime coalesced in the spring of 1993 through the formation of a new administrative office called COMBAT, “Community Backed Anti-Crime Tax,” tasked with providing direction to and encouraging collaboration among all funded agencies; and,
WHEREAS, this unique, comprehensive approach to reducing drug abuse and crime coalesced in the spring of 1993 through the formation of a new administrative office called COMBAT, tasked with providing direction to and encouraging collaboration among all funded agencies; and,
WHEREAS, COMBAT has for 30 years shifted the paradigm of the so-called “War On Drugs,” from just fighting drugs and crime to helping people through supporting dozens of community programs annually and through introducing innovative initiatives, such as assisting crime survivors or diverting those with substance use disorders away from prosecution and into treatment through a nationally emulated Drug Court; and,
WHEREAS, COMBAT has expanded its data-driven Striving Together to Reduce Violence in Neighborhoods (STRIVIN’) initiative into five different neighborhoods throughout Jackson County and created an innovative online social services referral program through which police, school administrators, social workers, faith-based leaders, elected officials, and concerned citizens can connect individuals and families to life-changing, even life-saving assistance; and,
WHEREAS, COMBAT provides essential resources and leadership in Jackson County that are not available in most other communities, in an ongoing and unwavering effort to reduce drug abuse and violent crime; now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the County Legislature of Jackson County, Missouri, that the Legislature recognizes and commends COMBAT, from one of its first and its longest serving administrators, Jim Nunnelly, to his successor Dr. Stacey Daniels Young, current Executive Director Vince Ortega, all COMBAT staff and all the agencies who have partnered with COMBAT for their dedication to serving the community in the past, present and future; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Legislature recognizes and appreciates the people of Jackson County, who have four times voted to extend the anti-crime tax by overwhelming margins ranging from 64% to 73%, for their ongoing support as new challenges arise, demonstrating how essential COMBAT is in 2023 and beyond.