"We're not going to arrest our way out of this. We have to look at a different way to solve the problem in partnerships with our nonprofit organizations, our schools and working together to try and do things different," said Public Defender Jessica Yeary.
Different agencies are working to find solutions to the rise in violence in our community. The Council on the Status of Men and Boys is asking for collaborations to give at risk youth more resources and support in hopes to reduce violence.
After seeing 141 homicides in 5 years, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil said law enforcement can't fix the problem themselves.
"We can't do this by ourselves. It's very important that we have partners like this and for those partners to come and understand and don't see police as the enemy, but sees us as part of the solution," said McNeil.
The partners he's referring to is the Council on the Status of Men and Boys, which works to reduce homicides by implementing prevention and intervention plans for young men and boys at risk of violence.
Over 100 people and community partners came to the council's first meeting to hear updates on the program's progress and what it hopes to accomplish. So far, the council has grown it's staff, secured partnerships and begun working with 50 boys and their families. Executive Director Royle King looking forward to pouring into at risk youth.
"Having that conversation so that they understand that they are kings and queens and that their families matter and we're just here to support them and help them navigate some of those barriers," said King.
The council is now asking for other community agencies to join forces in their initiative.
"If we involve them, our capacity just like that has phenomenally increased but the touch and the reach point is that much greater and we can save more people," said King.
Yeary works with many youth going through the juvenile justice system. She knows that having support and access to more resources that keeps them out of trouble works.
"That keeps us safer. That reduces people coming back into the system and it makes everything work better when they're given that support in returning to society," said Yeary.
Yeary, along with other community partners, are hopeful to see the impact the council will have.
"We know better, do better right? So we're all here together with the hope that we are going to collaborate, learn from each other, connect resources in a meaningful way and try to get in and intervene," said Yeary.
King said expanding their community partnerships will allow them to access more grant funding and increase their outreach. The council isn't just asking community agencies to partner with them. If you would like to be a mentor to the youth in our community, you can reach out to them on how to get involved.