TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — It's been two weeks since a West Pensacola Street shooting left one dead and 8 others hurt. Now, community leaders are working to tackle gun violence in the capital city.
As crime increases in the city, one local faith leader is working to create a new task force to help reduce gun violence. The plan is to bring everyone under one roof to strengthen existing resources and establish a new path to safer communities.
"I want to see change I want to see action," said David Van Williams, a resident of the Providence Neighborhood in Tallahassee. Williams said he's worried about crime in his community which is why he wants to be part of the new crime prevention task force rolling out in Tallahassee.
"Poverty is one of the issues that's driving some of the crime," added Williams.
Monday, Reverend RB Holmes held the first Respect Yourself Crime Prevention Task Force meeting.
His goal is to try and support at-risk youth and their families with affordable housing and job training to target the underlying issues that he says often lead to crime.
"A bullet does not know a race, a gender, or a zip code," said Holmes. "What we're going to do is strategize, we're going to lay out some action plans [to create a] coalition of organizations that's on the same page not pointing fingers at each other but pointing at the problems and trying to identify solutions."
With so many meetings going on to address violence, ABC 27 asked Revered Holmes how will this make any difference?
"I think you cannot give up you have to meet you have to strategize you have to bring folks together you have to try and reach this community to say that gun violence is unacceptable and we're better than this so I think that you've got to talk through it, work through it, pray through it, but most important you have to be committed and consistent," said Holmes.
Holmes plans to do this with the help of City of Tallahassee and Leon County leaders, criminology professors from FAMU and FSU, local mental health experts, faith-based leaders, and the Tallahassee Police Department.
TPD Chief Lawrence Revell said they're ready to be a part of this anyway they can...
"We can't continue to have our young people being shot a gentleman this weekend was helping an elderly couple take out trash and was hit by random gun fire we can't continue to allow those things to happen in our community without our community coming forward and helping us solve those issues," said Revell.
The new task force plans to create:
- City-wide prayer services in at-risk neighborhoods.
- Military bootcamp and incentives for youth to join the military
- Police athletic clubs in public housing
- More mentorship and tutoring programs
- Expand the city's TEMPO program
- Bring faith leaders along with police for positive neighborhood patrols.
Something Williams is hopeful for in the future…
"They will become productive members of society and they wouldn't need to be involved in crime and violence."
Holmes plans to have the next crime prevention task force meeting in January with a goal of rolling out some of those action plans within the next 6 to 12 months.