Joe Bayless


To the editor:

Send the Center for Conflict Resolution here in Independence to Ferguson, Mo.! Well, maybe I am just kidding, or maybe I am not. Something has been happening in this community.

Since the mediation office in Kansas City closed a few years ago, this Center for Conflict Resolution has been working with and supporting the efforts of the mayor of Kansas City and the chief of police in addressing the struggles of communicating with citizens of the community and schools. These are the exact needs of Ferguson. It might have helped months ago to send the chief of police of Kansas City to Ferguson. Now it’s too late.

Efforts in Independence by the police, the schools and the courts have been trying to find ways of solving conflicts before they escalate into violence. A method better than tanks, combat gear for police and tear gas is to learn to listen to each other. Restorative justice and neighborhood accountability boards are being implemented slowly, but surely, in our two communities. The chief in Kansas City and many others are practicing new models of communicating with their citizens in order to better serve them. Among many other things, they have attended week-long sessions on restorative justice, facilitated by the Center for Conflict Resolution.

Might I be bold enough to suggest that the mayor, police chief and several police officers of Ferguson be invited to Independence for this week-long course?

Mayor Eileen Weir said to me recently that the Center for Conflict Resolution might just be the best kept secret of Independence!