Contact COMBAT Communications Administrator Joe Loudon • • 816-881-4337


  1. Free Workshop November 17, 2021
    Funding_Workshop_FLASH-250How To Be A Successful COMBAT Applicant’

    COMBAT is continually looking to partner with new agencies that have new ideas for addressing the core issues at the heart of COMBAT’s mission: Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Violence Prevention. To help agencies navigate the COMBAT funding process, this FREE workshop will be held Wednesday, November 17, focusing on the basic requirements to be eligible for funding..
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  2. October 13, 2021
    One_Pill_Can_Kill_Slide_250Counterfeit Pills—‘Widely Available’ & ‘More Lethal’

    Prescription pills not obtained from a licensed pharmacy are not only illegal to possess, but when taken can also be dangerous. There’s a good chance those pills might be fakes with potentially fatal side effects. According to the DEA, counterfeit pills are “widely available” and “more lethal than ever before.” Seizures of phony pills containing fentanyl have increased 420% since 2019. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be a deadly dose.
    » MORE

  3. October 1, 2021
    Prescription_Medicines_250The 'Gateway Drugs' To The Opioid Crisis

    During National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, COMBAT Director Vince Ortega is urging people to remember doctor-prescribed painkillers were the “gateway drugs” that triggered America’s ongoing epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. Across the nation, another 49,860 lives were lost due to opioid overdoses in 2019—a 50.7% increase compared to the 33,091 lives lost in 2015. Despite efforts to curtail the use of—and addictiveness of—prescribed opioid medications, the FDA notes, “The scope of the opioid crisis continues to grow.”
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  4. September 30, 2021
    Support Crucial For LGBTQ+ Youth

    LGBTQ_Suicide-Risk_250Suicide Prevention
    The data about LGBTQ+ youth and suicide vulnerability is “shell-shocking”: 42% seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year; they’re five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Having one supportive person in their lives can make a dramatic difference for any young person. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention services specifically for LGBTQ+ young people and has found that “just one supportive person can reduce suicide ideation by more than 40%, especially among LGBTQ+ youth.”
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  5. September 15, 2021
    Deaths By Suicide On The Rise Among Older Adults

    Flash_Older_Adults_250Suicide Prevention
    We are, of course, aghast that suicide is the second leading cause of death among America’s adolescents and young adults. Too many lives are being cut short. But deaths by suicide also rose an alarming 40.8% during the last decade among those whose adolescence was long ago. Ageism is having an especially devastating impact on an aging America.
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  6. September 15, 2021
    Ageism's Devastating Impact Can Shorten Life Expectancy

    Flash_Ageism_250Suicide Prevention
    Ageism against older people has such detrimental health impacts that the American Psychological Association has joined other professional medical organizations in urging that it be addressed with the same urgency as racism and sexism. The Yale School of Public Health has concluded ageism targeting older people “led to worse outcomes in a number of mental health conditions, including depression, and a number of physical health conditions, including shorten life expectancy.”
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  7. September 1, 2021
    Talk About It: Start A Conversation—Ask The Question

    Talk_About_It-250Suicide Prevention
    Worried that someone you know or love might be having suicidal thoughts? Ask them—with empathy and compassion. Avoid just hinting around—this could be a matter of life or death. Create a safe place to ask, “Are you thinking about taking your own life?” And be prepared to follow up if the response is “yes,” “no” or unclear.
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  8. September 1, 2021
    Look & Listen For The Signs

    See_The_Signs-250Suicide Prevention
    Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are more than 3,700 suicide attempts per day across America. How can you tell if someone you care about might be among the millions seriously contemplating suicide? Look at how they are behaving. Listen to what they are saying.
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  9. September 1, 2021
    The Second Leading Cause Of Death Among Adolescents & Young Adults

    Too_Many_Let_Go_250Suicide Prevention
    Every 11 minutes. That's how often someone in the United States dies by suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. And Krisit Miller, program director for ReDiscover's Show-Me Zero Suicide program, says many deaths reported as accidents may have actually been suicides: "I really worry the suicide rate among kids is much, much higher than we think." » MORE 

  10. August 4, 2021
    COMBAT Now Accepting Applications For 2022 Funding

    2022_Mid-Year_Funding_REDUCEDSeptember 1, 2021 Deadline
    Jackson County COMBAT is now accepting applications for 2022 Funding. The application deadline is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Agencies seeking funding must be compliant when submitting their application(s). Any organization requesting COMBAT funding must have an office in Jackson County and provide services to Jackson County residents in Jackson County. Applications are being offered in three categories: Prevention (Violence and Substance Abuse); Substance Use Disorder Treatment; and Law Enforcement School-Based Initiatives.
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  11. June 16, 2021
    Mid-Year Fudning: Getting Resources While They're Needed

    Mid-Year_Funding_250During a news conference Wednesday announcing COMBAT has awarded nearly $1.5 million in mid-year funding, perhaps the most poignant statement came from a television news camera operator: "These dollars save lives." The Jackson County Legislature approved the $1,475,870 in funding Monday, with the life-saving dollars going to support programs focusing on two crucial anti-violence issues: domestic violence and youth employment. "We've had police telling us about 50% of the calls they were getting last year were domestic violence-related," COMBAT Director Vince Ortega said. "And youth employment—the lack of opportunities—has been an issue for years."
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  12. June 8, 2021
    One Gunshot Wound Survivor's Story

    One_Survivors_StorySince the end of 2016, there have been more than 2,000 non-fatal shootings in Jackson County. This is the story of one survivor as she deals with the "harsh realities" of trying to make a full recovery. "I don't know what I felt," says Lisa, who miraculously suffered no critical injuries despite being shot in the abdomen. "A lot was running through my mind—mostly my family. You just don't know at that moment if you're going to be OK." Given all the damage done to her home during the same incident that left with her a bullet wound, Lisa is still dealing with considerable anxiety as she tries to approach life one dayand one breathat a time.
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  13. June 4, 2021
    Providing 'Psychological First Aid' & More
    All_The_Damage_A_Bullet_Can_CauseTrauma surgeons can describe in graphic detail the bloody horror bullets inflict when they pierce the skin and violate the body. But for individuals fortunate enough to survive a gunshot wound (GSW), recovering physically might be only half the struggle. “To not address the psychological trauma done to survivors puts them at grave risk,” stresses Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Project RISE, a COMBAT-funded program at Truman Medical Center/University Health, focuses on helping GSW survivors make a full recovery. Since Project RISE was introduced in September of 2019, nearly 300 survivors of gun violence have been screened for Post-Trauma Stress Disorder and received Psychological First Aid.
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  14. April 23, 2021 Deadline
    2021_Mid-Year_FundingCOMBAT Accepting Applications For Mid-Year Funding
    COMBAT is currently accepting applications for 2021 mid-year funding to support Anti-Violence programs addressing two specific issues: Youth Employment  and Domestic Violence. The youth programs must be focused on finding 13- to 17-year-olds work in their communities. COMBAT will also fund accepted proposals that provide essential services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, in addition to prevention programs that promote healthy relationship skills. The deadline for submitting online applications is Friday, April 23. 
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  15. April 21, 2021
    Victim_Advocate_250They Found Their Calling
    Combined, Doris Cannon and Marilyn Layton have more than a half-century of experience as Victim Advocates in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. For both being an Advocate is more than just a job; it’s their calling. Advocates serve as liaisons between the victims—or their surviving family members—and the attorneys in the Prosecutor’s Office. They guide victims through the complexities of the legal process, attend all court hearings with them and can refer them for counseling and other services. “The families I work with have been going through probably the worst experience of their lives," says Cannon, who is assigned to homicide cases. If I can do anything to help them get through it, I’ve done some good. That’s what keeps me going.” » MORE

  16. April 15, 2021
    Carrying_For_Crime_Victirms_365Caring For Crime Survivors
    “Although a case might never be passed along the to the Prosecutor’s Office for charges, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can do to help these crime victims become crime survivors who are better able to get on with their lives.” The Caring For Crime Survivors program—created by the Prosecutor’s Office and operated in partnership with the AdHoc Group Against Crime, with funding from COMBAT—can provide referrals to counseling and facilitate repairs to property damaged during a crime. AdHoc has many of the doors pierced with bullets transformed into artwork.   
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  17. April 22, 2021
    Run_Jean_RunCounty Prosecutor Running 25 Miles To Support Child Abuse Prevention & For All Crime Survivors
    Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker is going to literally be on the run April 22, with many miles to go before she stops—exactly 25 miles! Jean will be running to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Child Protection Center and to raise funds for the CPC. But she’ll also be running to support Child Abuse Awareness Month, Victims’ Rights Week, brave individuals who’ve survived abuse, the difference makers who report abuse and programs that help crime victims become crime survivors.   
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  18. April 10, 2021
    250_Law_Enforcement_Unit_of_the_YearDrug Task Force Honored By Peers
    The Jackson County Drug Task Force has earned high praise from its peers in law enforcement yet again. During the organization’s annual conference, the Missouri Narcotic Officers Association (MNOA) named the task force the “Law Enforcement Unit of the Year” for the fifth time in the last 10 years. The Jackson County Drug Task Force, comprised of detectives from 12 local police departments and the Sheriff’s Office, often collaborates with federal authorities on cases involving international drug trafficking cartels seeking to sell methamphetamine, heroin and other dangerous drugs in our community.   
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  19. March 16, 2021
    Community Hero AwardCommunity Hero Honored In Raytown
    Sisters In Christ has been honored as a “Community Hero” for work in Raytown operating the Safe Zone hub for COMBAT’s Striving Together to Reduced Violence In Neighbors (STRIVIN’) initiative in the Eastern Jackson County community. The Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Building Foundation presents its Community Hero Awards to individuals and organizations for “going above and beyond during the pandemic” to provide community services in the Raytown area.   
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  20. January 26, 2021
    COMBAT CommissionVacancies Filled On Commission
    3 New Appointments, 3 Reappointments Made
    Alfred Jordan, Stephanie Burton and Elizabeth Williams have been named new COMBAT Commissioners, filling vacancies created in recent months—one by the passing of Gene Morgan, the other two by resignations. The COMBAT Commission helps set goals for COMBAT’s anti-violence and anti-drug initiatives, in addition to making recommendations to the Jackson County Legislature regarding all requests for COMBAT funding.   
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  21. Crime Tips Save LivesSharing What You Know Could Make All The Difference
    Tips can not only solve crimes but also save lives. Don’t let a violent criminal hurt—or kill—someone else. Prevent another person from overdosing because somebody is dealing drugs in your neighborhood. The next person to die might be someone you know… someone you care about… someone you love… While COMBAT no longer receives crime tips, we urge to share what you know or suspect with agencies that can take your information anonymously.   
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  22. January 15, 2021
    Martin Luther KingListen To Dr. King's Voice—Answer The Call For Peace
    An assassin’s bullet struck down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But it failed to silence him. The echo of his voice reverberates through the years. We just need to listen. As we remember—and honor—this great man of peace, we must reject violence and keep his dream alive. We can start  by seeing every human being as a brother and sister—someone to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion—and by committing ourselves to making tomorrow better than today.   
    » MORE


  1. Medical Marijuana
    Education Before You Medication
    Two years after voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri, dispensaries have opened across the state. What does this mean for you and Jackson County as a community? Before anyone medicates through marijuana COMBAT and the County Prosecutor’s Office urge them to educate. Realize that medical marijuana and driving make for an unhealthy combination—with real legal ramifications. Also, marijuana—like any prescription medication—needs to be kept out of the reach of children and pets.   

  2. December 10 & 15, 2020
    Webinar Series Focusing On Compassion Fatigue & Trauma-Infomed Care
    Compassion Fatigue Training
    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues taking a toll on schools—from students and their families, to teachers and school-based health care providers. This two-part webinar series will focus on strategies to cope with compassion fatigue and trauma-informed care. The first webinar in this series will provide an overview of the impact of trauma on individuals within school communities and the second part on using trauma-informed care techniques to handle stress.   
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  3. December 2, 2020
    Cram-A-Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive
    Cram A Cruiser
    The season for giving is upon us! And with 2020 having been such a challenging year, your generosity is appreciated now more than ever. The Kansas City Police South Patrol Division and 7-11 are holding a Cram-A-Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive Wednesday, December 2. Bring new and unwrapped toys to donate. Enjoy a free coffee or hot chocolate and a candy cane. Get your picture with Blue Santa, local officers and Super Heroes. And brighten up someone else's holidays.   
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  4. November 16, 2020
    Trauma-Informed Online Course Being Offered FREE (For Limited Time)
    Trauma-Informed-CourseStarr Commonwealth, a nonprofit focused on "healing trauma and building resilence in children" is offering its online Trauma-Informed Resilient Schools course for FREE (for a limited time).
    A participant from a Kansas City called the course "the most impactful training I have received—it leaves you so hopeful [that] we can undo the damage done to the youngest members of the community."  
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  5. November 2020
    Give Us 5 Minutes (Maybe 10) To Help Shape The Future
    Funding SurveyWe want to hear from you. The COMBAT Commission and Jackson County Prosecutor's Office are considering revisions to the basic formula for allocating funding from the county’s quarter-cent Anti-Crime sales tax. The funding formula is used to determine what percentage of COMBAT tax revenues is allocated to prevention, treatment, law enforcement agencies and more. Please give us your input by taking about 5 to 10 minutes to complete our COMBAT Funding Survey. 

  6. October 2020
    COVID-19 Testing Clinics
    COVID Testing October 2020The Jackson County Health Department is conducting free testing clinics throughout the county in October, including in Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Grandview, Independence, Kansas City, Lee's Summit and Raytown. Testing will be done using either an NP swab (nasopharyngeal swab) or nasal swab collected by a healthcare professional. This test only detects a current infection with COVID-19 and will not be able to detect if you've had a past infection. 
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  7. October 10 & 12, 2020
    National Faith And Blue WeekendNational Faith & Blue Weekend
    Events have been scheduled for Saturday, October 10 and Monday, October 12 to commemorate National Faith & Blue Weekend in Kansas City. Those activities include a Drive Through  Food Distribution at United Believers Community Church in Kansas City, a Community Peace Parade through the Ruskin neighborhood and a Social Distancing Unity Prayer to held following the parade.
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  8. September 24, 2020
    Drug Task Force Seizes 3,000 Pills Laced With Fentanyl
    Just A Speck Of Fentanyl Can Kill YouA two milligram dose of fentanyl can be lethal. That’s why the Jackson County Drug Task Force’s seizure of 3,000 pills stamped as OxyContin but laced with fentanyl almost certainly saved lives—and sounded alarms. As COMBAT Director Vince Ortega points out, swallowing a tablet with fentanyl in it “could be every bit as deadly as biting down on a cyanide capsule.” While morphine is 1½ times stronger than oxycodone, the semi-synthetic opioid in OxyContin, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. 
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  9. September 15, 2020
    ‘We Are Truly In This Together’
    Creating A New NormalViolence and COVID-19 have combined to create “one public health crisis on top of another.” From this adversity, COMBAT Director Vince Ortega is hopeful a new—and better—“normal” emerges. As summer ends and fall begins, he urges law enforcement agencies to hear the calls for social justice and reform, and stresses everyone—social workers, educators, concerned citizens—must work together to address the underlying issues sparking violence and drug abuse. We are truly in this together, so every neighborhood can become a safe place to call home. 
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  10. September 10, 2020
    New Behavioral Health Clinic Opens In Raytown
    Rediscover Urgent Care“With our virtual care, we are here when you need us.” ReDiscover has opened a new urgent care clinic in Raytown to provide services for behavioral health emergencies. The clinic is located in Raytown and open seven days a week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinical’s initial services are being provided virtually. ReDiscover has been providing mental health and substance use disorder services in Jackson County for a half century. 
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  11. September 8, 2020
    ID Can Be Crucial In Missing Children Cases
    Children with their ID CardsThe Kansas City Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program recently hosted an event to help families compile the kind of descriptive information that could prove crucial if a child goes missing. The KCPD invited families to have their child participate in the EZ Child ID process, which includes getting photographs and fingerprints, and providing families with ID cards as well as an EZ ID Kit form. Every day 2,000 children are reported missing in the United States. 
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  12. September 1, 2020
    It's Not Too Late To Make Sure You Are Counted
    2020 Census: Every Person CountsYou can still fill out the Census Bureau’s survey online, by mail or over the phone. Making sure you are counted really counts toward how much federal funding your community receives for programs such as Medicaid and infrastructure projects like new schools, hospitals, roads and bridges. The information you give the Census Bureau must remain confidential. The Kansas City Health Department is now providing information sessions every Tuesday and Thursday to answer your Census questions. 
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  13. August 5, 2020
    2021 Funding Applications Now Being Accepted
    2021 FundingCOMBAT is now accepting applications for 2021 funding. Funding applications are available in four separate categories: 1) Violence Prevention; 2) Substance Abuse Prevention; 3) Substance Use Disorder Treatment; 4) Law Enforcement School-Based Initiative. NEW THIS YEAR: Applications can only be submitted using the new online forms that can be accessed through this website’s Form Center. DEADLINE: Forms must be submitted by 4:00 p.m., September 1, 2020. 
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  14. July 27, 2020

    Domestic Violence Was Already An Epidemic Before COVID-19

    Domestic Violence
    Domestic violence increases whenever families spend more time together—whether they’re spending more time together during the holiday season or due to a pandemic. With COVID-19 forcing many families into isolation, surges in intimate partner abuse were probably inevitable. They’ve been reported all across the nation and around the world, promptly the United Nations to declare domestic violence a global crisis. Locally, agencies that operate shelters and provide other services for abuse victims have experienced a significant increase in crisis hotline calls. They’ve also reported “not only seeing more abuse, but injuries being inflicted that are more severe. The level of violence… has only gotten worse with the pandemic.” 
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  15. July 23, 2020

    Special Masked Delivery Made

    Special Delivery of Masks
    Jackson County Legislative Chair Theresa Cass Galvin (6th District) recently made a special delivery. She delivered 300 face masks to Sisters In Christ in Raytown. Sisters In Christ operates recovery houses for women transitioning from substance use disorder treatment facilities and/or correctional facilities. Sisters In Christ also serves as the COMBAT resource hub for the STRIVIN' initiative in Raytown. 
    » MORE

  16. July 20, 2020

    'More Egregious' Abuse

    Child Abuse & COVID-19—Two Public Heatlh Crises
    Child Abuse
    Reports to Missouri’s child abuse hotline dropped more than 50% in March. That was an ominous sign. With children in isolation after schools closed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, teachers and other mandatory reporters could no longer watch over them and look for signs of abuse—signs, if spotted, they’d be required to report. If anything, the decrease in hotline calls sent off alarm bells. And in June the Child Protection Center experienced a surged in calls for its staff to interview victims—to acquire the statements the police needed to make arrests. CPC began seeing cases of abuse “much more egregious” than before the pandemic.
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  17. June 19, 2020

    Let Freedom

    Juneteenth—And Everyday
    JuneteenthJuneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in this country. However, while the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution officially abolished slavery in America, neither, of course, ended racist oppression. Calls for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday are being made to not only recognize slavery’s unsavory role in building America, but to also acknowledge racism’s ongoing impact on the lives of African Americans today.
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  18. May 12, 2020

    Still Able To Put Together The Conflict-Resoultion Pieces

    CCR: Putting Together The Conflict-Resolution PiecesThe Center for Confliction Resolution (CCR) has continued to put the pieces together, finding resolutions for conflicts, despite the COVID-19 crisis. Normally, CCR arranges for people with disputes to meet and “make a human connection,” then hopefully settle their differences with a handshake. The pandemic has forced CCR to find a new approach. The Center’s mediators are using technology to allow people to continue meeting face-to-face—even while miles apart—and, true to CCR’s name, eventually resolve their conflict peacefully. 
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  19. May 7, 2020

    Facing Challenges & Expressing Gratitude

    Sisters In Christ Update“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Gardening is but one way the Sisters In Christ have been helping their clients cope with the anxiety of the COVID-19 crisis, while continuing on their path to recovery. The organization’s executive director, Carolyn Whitney, expressed her gratitude to COMBAT and other partners for their ongoing support as  the Sisters In Christ and other COMBAT-funded agencies move into May. 
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  20. April 30, 2020

    Taking The Census Only Takes Minutes

    Census Results Have Decade-Long Ramifications
    Census ReminderThe Census Bureau has sent postcards to households all across the nation as a simple reminder that everyone counts and everyone needs to be counted. The only way to assure you will be counted in the 2020 Census is to respond to the Bureau’s “Shape Your Future” questionnaire—online, over the phone or by mail. It’ll only take you a few minutes, but the Census’ official headcount will have ramifications for our state and community lasting a decade. 
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  21. April 20, 2020

    'Justice For All' Includes Respecting Crime Victims' Rights

    Justice For AllVince Ortega • COMBAT Director
    The presumption of innocence—the fact a defendant needn’t prove they did not commit a crime—is paramount in our legal system. But we can’t truly have “justice for all” unless we assure victims’ rights are also respected and protected and legally guaranteed. It's vital having victims' rights laws on the books. Just as essential as following the letter of the law, I believe, is sincerely treating each and every victim with compassion. 
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  22. April 15, 2020

    State Auditor Releases COMBAT Report

    State_AuditWe welcome today’s state audit report on COMBAT. The Prosecutor's Office and the COMBAT Director have worked to improve the administration of COMBAT since it was transferred back to the Prosecutor in late 2018, including the implementation of the previously released BKD audit recommendations. We will also work diligently to implement the State Audit findings

  23. April 14, 2020

    Homicide Victims' Families & Violent Crime Survivors Still Need Support

    Mothers In Charge Founder At Homicide SceneKC Mothers In Charge Founder Rosilyn Temple would—normally—be among the first to arrive at a Kansas City homicide scene, soon after the police, to offer crisis counseling  and other support for the victim’s surviving family members. But the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced Mothers In Charge and the AdHoc Group Against Crime to do the best they can, virtually and over the phone, to continue providing crime victim support services from a safe distance. 
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  24. April 5, 2020

    Recovery Is Possible, Evening During A Pandemic

    Welcome House President/CEO Jamie BoyleSubstance Use Disorder treatment remains just as essential as treatments for other serious illnesses like cancer or kidney disease—treatments that can’t simply be put on hold even during the COVID-19 crisis. Welcome House President/CEO Jamie Boyle gives us a first-person account of how his treatment facility is continuing to provide services, while taking precautions to protect its 60 residents—men “taking their first steps into sobriety”—and coping with mounting emergency expenses. 
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  25. Continual Updates

    CoronavirusCOMBAT Agencies Making Adjustments In Response To Pandemic

    COMBAT funds nearly 100 programs throughout Jackson County that offer prevention and treatment services. We will be posting changes those agencies are having to make in response to the Coronavirus pandemic as they are reported to us. Some agencies have closed their physical locations, but are continuing to try and deliver services via the phone or through online options like Zoom. 
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  26. March 19, 2020

    Pandemic Poses Unique Challenges For Treatment Facilities

    Healing House Packedd Community CenterDespite the COVID-19 pandemic, COMBAT-funded treatment agencies are continuing to serve their clients the best they can under difficult circumstances. The global public health crisis poses unique challenges for all these agencies, but especially those operating residential facilities or recovery houses—places where practicing “social distancing” isn’t necessarily easy and runs counter to addressing the social isolation many people with a substance use disorder (SUD) can feel.
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  27. March 19, 2020

    Pandemic 'Financial Hit' Coming

    Pandemic Could Really Sicken The Economy Too They have or, at least, had jobs—the men and women who call Healing House home, the women seeking a fresh start at the Sisters In Christ recovery houses, the men undergoing treatment at Benilde Hall.  The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic tole is already be felt by many of these individuals as they live with uncertainty while striving to continue their substance use disorder (SUD) recoveries. And the agencies serving them know “there’s going to be a financial hit—a hard hit—coming.”
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  28. March 12, 2020

    Everyone Counts & Needs To Be Counted

    2020 Census“We need good data to make good decisions,” points out COMBAT Director Vince Ortega. With data now driving COMBAT’s decisions about where resources can most effectively be allocated, accurate numbers—such as statistics about population density—are crucial. That data collection starts with the U.S. Census Bureau. States that are undercounted, due to people not participating in the 2020 Census, could lose billions of dollars in federal funding and seats in the House of Representatives. Also, inaccurate data would impact crime analysts, like COMBAT’s Holli Crowley, seeking to identify correlations between Census data and criminal activity. 

    » MORE

  29. February 24, 2020

    Drug Task Record-Setting $30.4 Million In Seizures

    Drug Task Force Record-Setting YearThe Jackson County Drug Task Force had never before seized more than $20 million in illegal substances in a single year. But the Task Force discovered nearly $12½ million worth of  methamphetamine during a single search last fall as that record-setting day led to what would be a record-setting year in 2019—with $30.4 million in illegal substances confiscated or purchased in “controlled buys.” COMBAT Director Vince Ortega emphasizes most of those drugs were seized before they could be distributed on the streets, “which is when we would see the surge in violence associated with drug trafficking.”  Therefore, he says the COMBAT-funded Drug Task Force is “very much an anti-violence task force too.” 
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  30. February 3, 2020

    New COMBAT Budget Coordinator

    Not Just About The Numbers: Budget Coordinator Keron HopkinsKeron Hopkins brings 20-plus years of experience to her role as COMBAT’s new Budget Coordinator. During a career that has included posts with three major universities and a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, she has administered grants and contracts, managed budgets, modernized financial procedures, and overseen multi-million-dollar portfolios. She wasn’t seeking “just any job” when she accepted an offer from COMBAT. She wanted to work for an organization committed to making a difference in the community. She says of her new position with COMBAT, “This is a job worth fighting for.” 
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  31. January 14, 2020

    The Boxing Ballerina

    The Boxing BallerinaShe 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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  32. January 2, 2020

    'I Opened My Eyes More Widely...'

    Doing More Than Patching Bullet Holes: A Trauma Surgeon's Perspective On Gun Violence 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. December 19, 2020

    Hope Has A New Hangout

    Hope HangoutSince 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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  2. December 13, 2019

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

    State Line ArrestThe 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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  3. November 21, 2019

    Project RISE

    Keeping Surivors Alive!
    Focus On PTSD CareA 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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  4. November 21, 2019

    Project RISE

    From 9/11 To Katrina To GSW Survivors
    Adapting Mass Disaster MethodsSuffering 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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  5. November 21, 2019

    Project RISE

    Vets Spark Progress On PTSD 
    Treating Veterans Better For PTSD and Better Treating EveryoneDuring 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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  6. November 1, 2019

    Making A Difference You Can See

    During The chill and gloom of a bitter—winterish—fall day failed to keep more than 50 volunteers away as COMBAT held a neighborhood clean-up effort in the blocks surrounding Central High School in Kansas City. Before and after photos—and during—photos show the difference the effort made. The helping hands and heavy equipment did more than help brighten up the neighborhood. Studies have shown cleaning up the trash in a neighborhood can go a long way toward cleaning up crime.
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  7. October 28, 2019

    Just Another DART Day

    DART_Day-3After 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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  8. October 18, 2019

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

    Meth Packages Being Pulled From Inside TireThe 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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  9. September 18, 2019

    County Prosecutor's Office Releases Initial Audit Of COMBAT Financial Practices
    BKD Audit

    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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  10. August 29, 2019

    COMBAT Initiative Focuses On The Need For Joint Effort To Reduce Violence

    STRIVING Together To Reduce Violence In Neighborhoods
    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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  11. August 7, 2019

    Reducing Violence Requires Working Together

    There are no easy answers for stopping all this violence, but we must keep seeking solutionsVince Ortega • COMBAT Director
    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.
    » MORE

  12. July 22, 2019

    Connection Or Coincidence?

    Medical Marijuana: Is there a connection between marijuana legalization and overdose deaths increasiWhen states started legalizing marijuana, the nation’s overdose rate began to rise. There must be a correlation between decriminalizing marijuana and the OD crisis, right? But haven’t studies shown states with legalized marijuana have fewer opioid overdoses than states still outlawing pot? How can that be true, though, if Colorado really has the third highest rate of drug addiction in the nation? Or is 12th highest? Separating hyperbole from fact is not easy when it comes to cannabis laws and attitudes. 
    » Part 5  |  5-Part Series

  13. July 19, 2019

    Case Illustrates Cartel Activity In Jackson County & Beyond

    Arrests Made In Jackosn County and BeyondWhat started off as a seemingly simple casea 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 Missouriturns 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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  14. July 18, 2019

    'This Stuff Ain't Candy'

    Medical Marijuana GummiesMany marijuana edibles appeal to the sweet tooth (cookies, brownies, candy, etc.). That might make eating just a little and stopping difficult. “Who eats just one Gummy Bear?” Also, the THC in an edible takes longer to enter the bloodstream. Because they aren’t “feeling it,” people have often made the mistake of eating more. Then when the THC kicks it, the effect can be dramatic and dangerous: panic attacks, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, respiratory insufficiency and more.
    » Part 4  |  5-Part Series

  15. July 15, 2019

    When The Laws Clash

    Federal and State Marijuana LawsMissouri has joined 32 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. Despite two-thirds of states now legalizing the drug’s use for medical purposes, the federal government still classifies cannabis as being a dangerous drug like heroin. President Trump has said marijuana legalization “should be left up to the states.” Official federal policies, however, remain in place that prohibit most marijuana dispensaries from banking their proceeds, and due to HUD regulations, people living in federally-subsidized housing may risk eviction if they use medical marijuana.
    » Part 3  |  5-Part Series

  16. July 11, 2019

    How Close Is Too Close For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

    Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and their location near schoolsMissouri reconsiders initial 200-foot buffer between medical marijuana dispensaries and schools, extending it to 1,000 feet. The state does give city governments the option to reduce that distance, but the constitutional amendment Missourians approved in 2018 prohibits cities from passing ordinances banning dispensaries. Meanwhile, studies about the relationships between dispensaries and crime rates vary significantly. Local officials are sorting through this conflicting information as they prepare for dispensaries opening in Jackson County next year.
    » Part 2  |  5-Part Series

  17. July 8, 2019

    Opportunity For Some & Cause For Concern

    Medical Marijuana: Opportunity & Cause For ConcernDr. Kelvin Walls, a COMBAT Commissioner, supports the legalizaton of medical marijuana, saying, "For some people it is the correct medicine to prescribe." And in 2018 Missourians overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Now Jackson County leads the state in the number of applications to grow, manufacture and dispense medical marijuana. But what is clearly seen as an opportunity by some is cause for concern by others.
    » Part 1  |  5-Part Series

  18. June 27, 2019

    Celebratory Gunshots Pose Deadly Threat

    FireworksNotFirearmsVince Ortega • COMBAT Director
    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.
    » MORE

  19. June 21, 2019

    I'd Be Back In Prison Or Dead

    COMBAT Saved My LifeI'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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  20. June 11, 2019

    'Demand' For Meth Remains High In Jackson County

    Meth Still Number One ProblemEach 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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  21. June 4, 2019

    Jackson County Drug Task Force Changes With The Times

    Drug_Task_Force_REDUCEDThe 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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  22. May 22, 2019

    Trauma Surgeons Have Seen Gun Violence Carnage Up Close—And It Is Personal

    Gun_Violence_REDUCEDThe 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."
    » MORE

  23. May 9, 2019

    Sheffield Place Anti-Bullying Program Starts With Kindness 

    Sheffield Place Anti-Bullying program starts with being niceWhen 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.
    » MORE

  24. May 9, 2019

    Teaching Kids About Not 'Talking To Strangers' In The Digital World

    There safety is on the lineTheir 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.
    » MORE

  25. May 1, 2019

    The Voice Of Experience— New COMBAT Chairman Really Gets It

    New COMBAT Chair Larry BeatyLarry 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."  
    » MORE

  26. April 25, 2019

    'Violence & Drugs Don't Pay Attention To Zip Codes' 

    John BoydNew 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. 
    » MORE

  27. January 25, 2019

    Dawna J. Shumate Appointed Deputy Director

    Dawna ShumateJackson 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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  1. October 29, 2018

    VInce Ortega Appointed COMBAT Director

    Vince OrtegaVince 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. 
    » MORE