Grandparents Against Gun Violence Virtual Meeting
May 24, 2021

President Judy Sherry called the meeting to order at 4:05 pm.

Chair Barb McNeile reported Lock It For Love has returned to its original model of distributing gun clocks at community events.  People who have participated in LIFL will receive a Signup Genius listing for upcoming opportunities to volunteer.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring a friend to events to acquaint them with LIFL events.  Carla Oppenheimer told participating at a recent community fair which was outside, with social distancing and masking,  and the participants felt very comfortable.  Community members appreciated receiving the gun lock packets.

Carla reported on three upcoming events:

  • June 4, Gun Violence Awareness Day: Because of the pandemic, there are not many activities this year, but Everytown for Gun Safety made suggestions:
    • Ask your city to proclaim June 4, 2021 as Gun Violence Awareness Day. Overland Park, Leawood, and Prairie Village have done so, and Kansas City, Mo is expected to do so.
    • Wear your GAGV polo shirt, ball cap or anything orange.
    • Share the date on social media and add why you’re committed to preventing gun violence.
    • Fly your American flag and add an orange ribbon to call attention to the day.
    • Talk with your friends about what the day involves and about Gun Violence and GAGV.
  • Saturday, June 12, noon, Juneteenth Cultural Parade at 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. Judy will drive her red car with a blue license plate in the parade.  You are invited to walk with her and wear your orange swag.  You will receive a Signup Genius next week to participate.
  • Saturday, June 19, Heritage Festival, 18th and Vine, 11-4 pm – LIFL will have a table. You will receive a Signup Genius for this event.

Say Their Names:  Nancy Oglesby read the names of the victims of homicide by gun violence in the metropolitan area since our last meeting.  Often these people are recognized by a number, but it is important to remember they are real people who mattered to their families, friends and communities.

Julie Young introduced today’s program, Behind the Badge: Struggles Our Police Partners Face.  Police Chief Byron Roberson and Capt. Ivan Washington of the Prairie Village Police Department talked about how they and their officers handle their daily stress. They were joined by social worker Heather Mason of the Johnson County Mental Health Department, who accompanies officers on mental health calls.

  • Police Chief Robinson said organizations like GAGV are needed to keep the spotlight on gun violence. He said citizens often don’t think about the stress of police work:  night work, being mentally involved in the job 24/7 while dealing with responsibilities of their families, lack of nutritious meals due to lack of time and being in a car, PTSD due to job trauma – seeing trauma, being involved in trauma, having to take action during a traumatic situation.  These stresses can result in obesity, heart disease, depression, divorce, alcoholism, and suicide.  The PVPD uses mitigation efforts including creative scheduling, paid time off,  and financial wellness and physical fitness programs.  Building improvements to make the building more secure and the breakroom more comfortable have also been beneficial.
  • Captain Washington discussed the Peer Support Program which is designed to release some of the stress of policing. Officers are assigned to be the point person for their peers. They document when they’ve had contact with a peer but will not share what was discussed, unless someone’s life is in danger.
  • Heather Mason is a licensed mental health professional, one of eleven throughout Johnson County, who assists the police with mental health calls. She may de-escalate a situation, makes an assessment like would be done in an ER, advises what services are available, and makes the situation less stressful for the police officer.

Next meeting:  Monday, June 28, 4:00 pm, Roe Park (103rd and Roe).   Masks are optional if you have been vaccinated; required if you have not been vaccinated.  Water bottles will be available but bring your own snacks.  Missouri and Kansas state representatives will give short presentations followed by social hour.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 pm.

Minutes submitted by Charlotte Davison, Secretary.