Kansas City Police Officer Joins the Peace Party

Marti, Don and Officer Cooley

Over the lunch hour last Wednesday, three Community Mediation Center (CMC) staff members met with Officer Jason Cooley, at the Hardee’s on 24 Highway in Kansas City. Officer Cooley is the Community Interaction Officer for Kansas City’s East Patrol. East patrol is an area that sometimes experiences what is called ‘Black Out’, no police cars available to respond to calls for help, because of the high rate of crime. Officer Cooley’s job is to promote crime prevention and safety in neighborhoods through his active presence. He builds relationships with residents by providing security training, block watch training and self defense training for women. Environmental design, lighting, landscaping, and other options that involve thinking outside the box are considered as ways to help alleviate crime and the appearance of crime. His father, also a police officer, was a Community Interaction Officer for many years beginning in the mid 80’s. Peace building seems to run in their family.

This meeting was arranged to discuss Neighborhood Accountability Boards (NABs), a Restorative Justice concept that has been shown to reduce crime and violence in communities. NABs are a form of Victim-Offender Dialogue, which provides offenders, often juveniles, the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, putting a human face on those they have harmed. Trained members of the NAB stand in for victims of crime and often state fear, confusion and disruption as consequences of the actions of offenders. Restitution is agreed upon by all affected parties, in an effort to put things as right as possible. One of the focuses for restitution is keeping offenders involved in their community in positive ways. Offenders are supported by their neighbors to follow through with obligations and agreements to make future choices that enhance community, for the safety and benefit of everyone.

CMC staff members Don Ivans and Marti Resch have been supporting citizens in the East Patrol area for three years, as part of a Neighborhood Action Team through Aim 4 Peace, an organization dedicated to helping communities ‘Stop the Shooting’. Officer Cooley has seen the consistent support from the staff at CMC, and believes in the principles of Restorative Justice.

Officer Cooley has taken the idea of Neighborhood Accountability Boards to his Captain, using an example of a community with an active NAB that has seen decreased crime. The next step is to identify a receptive Neighborhood Association in the East Patrol area, introduce the concept of Restorative Justice to them, and with Officer Cooley’s participation, train 10 or more residents in the NAB format, referral criteria and process expectations.

A Kansas City, Missouri police officer, who recognizes the necessity to build stronger and safer communities from WITHIN. Welcome to the Peace Party!

You are invited! Look for unusual ways to solve conflict, think outside the box.  Your important relationships, family, neighbors, co-workers, are worth extra effort and care.  Ask for help when you need it.

If you would like to support the work of the Community Mediation Center go to www.communitymediationkc.org.

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