If a small army of happily chatting children marching in a sea of American flags could beat crime, peace would reign at Truman Road and Topping on the city's East Side.
Near that intersection is McCoy Elementary School, which held a "Peace March" yesterday afternoon and invited me along to see the good use they're making of crime stats from this blog.
About 150-200 persons answered Principal Jo Nemeth's call for a march to raise awareness about crime in McCoy's neighborhood.
She showed me a large desk map with stickers marking crime locations near the school. I saw murders and other scary-looking labels.
#1 crime problem, she said: Section 8 housing in Blue Valley Town Homes and Hilltop. She wants them gone. Where are they supposed to go, I ask?
"Nationally, it's known that concentrated Section 8 housing increases crime," she said; dispersion of those residents in a neighborhood is better.
Four of the city's eight homicides this year have occurred near McCoy, said Reggie Pierce, co-chair with Nemeth of the Blue Valley Neighborhood Assocation Crime and Safety Committee.
He said Nemeth was doing a great job with the school and community, noting with a bit of wonder that she lives in Overland Park.
I marched with KCPD Major John Coleman (ret.), security director for the Kansas City School District. How's security? I asked.
"Really, we're doing about the same as every year," he said.
- McCoy has a lot to brag about - high test scores, Safe School Zone, etc.
- Coleman's first assignment as a Kansas City cop in 1968 was to quell the riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
- The neighborhood is still home to people who went to McCoy long ago.
- Reggie Pierce and five others are the Blue Valley Mobile Crime Watch. They have stories.
- McCoy, an imposing three-story brick structure, was built in 1914. No online picture of it exists, from what I can tell.
- I say, go McCoy!